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Dow to Triple Production of ENLIGHT™ Polyolefin Encapsulant Films

Published on 2011-08-04. Author : SpecialChem

Philadelphia -- The Dow Chemical Company is adding capacity for its ENLIGHT™ Polyolefin Encapsulant Films. Two new manufacturing plants - one in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, and one in Schkopau, Germany, will be built in 2012. Together, these sites will more than triple the Company's capacity for making specialty films used in photovoltaic modules, and will significantly expand the Company's ability to supply encapsulant films worldwide.

Dow introduced the technology for ENLIGHT™ Films mid last year. These innovative polyolefin films have demonstrated that they can help improve the reliability and performance of finished photovoltaic modules, possibly leading to a longer service life. These encapsulant films also allow fast processing speeds, which may help module manufacturers lower their conversion costs. ENLIGHT™ Polyolefin Encapsulant Films also have been listed as "Recognized Components" by Underwriters Laboratories.

"Converting solar energy into an efficient source of electricity is an area of expertise Dow will continue to develop," says Brij Sinha, Global Market Manager for Photovoltaics, Performance Plastics. "Demand for photovoltaic modules has been growing at about 30 percent per year, and is expected to continue at this rate for the next several years."

Just last month, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), Bloomberg New Energy, and the Frankfurt School for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance published a joint report that noted that investments in renewable energies, from wind to solar power, continued remarkable growth - up nearly a third to US$211 billion globally last year. Some of the fastest growth was due to small-scale solar panels on rooftops in Europe. Investments in Germany alone rose 132 percent, to US$34 billion annually. The UNEP report indicates further growth for photovoltaic modules as overall module pricing reaches levels that make it "far more competitive" with other sources of electricity, especially in sunny countries in both developed and developing economies around the world.

Dow offers a number of commercial grades of ENLIGHT™ Films, and also helps develop customer-specific formulations. These films offer greater module stability and improved electrical performance over more traditional encapsulants, such as ethylene vinyl acetate-based products. ENLIGHT™ Encapsulant Films are suitable for both crystalline silicon (C-Si) and thin-film modules.

Paul Curtin, Associate Technology Director for Specialty Films, says the new plant designs will be based on technology used at the initial manufacturing site in Findlay, Ohio, which began production in end of last year.

"The Schkopau facility will become part of one of Dow's most important sites in Europe," says Ralf Brinkmann, President of Dow in Germany. "Schkopau also happens to be nestled in the heart of Germany's 'solar valley.'" Brinkmann explains that this area is already home to more than a dozen companies that make photovoltaic modules and their components. He estimates that approximately 30-40 new positions will be needed at the site once the plant for ENLIGHT™ Films is up and running.

"The Map Ta Phut operation will be built with the latest energy efficiency techniques and supports our strategy to further enhance and expand our presence in Thailand," says Jirasak Singmaneechai, Thailand Country Manager, who also indicated that 30-35 positions will be added. He also noted that the Thailand site is Dow's largest manufacturing facility in the Asia-Pacific region, with excellent access to a seaport.

Sinha noted that Dow is dedicated to finding technologies that harness the power of the sun and bring energy to use in many different ways - through solar farms, rigid and flexible photovoltaic solar modules and innovative new roof shingles for residential homes. In addition to ENLIGHT™ Encapsulant Films, Dow also makes ADCOTE™ Solvent-based Adhesives and MOR-FREE™ Solventless Laminating Adhesives for backsheet products, electronic materials used to make photoelectric cells, polyglycol heat transfer fluids, and DOW POWERHOUSE™ Solar Shingles for residential use.

About The Dow Chemical Company

Dow combines the power of science and technology with the "Human Element" to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. The Company connects chemistry and innovation with the principles of sustainability to help address many of the world's most challenging problems such as the need for clean water, renewable energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity. Dow's diversified industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 160 countries and in high growth sectors such as electronics, water, energy, coatings and agriculture. In 2010, Dow had annual sales of $53.7 billion and employed approximately 50,000 people worldwide. The Company's more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 188 sites in 35 countries across the globe. References to "Dow" or the "Company" mean The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly noted.

Source: Dow Chemical Company

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