European branch of AGC Glass, AGC Europe has signed a Letter of Intent to enter into a joint venture with Saudi Arabian glass company, Obeikan Glass.
The joint venture is to open a solar glass coating manufacturing plant by the start of 2016, to be built in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. The plant will be on the same site as Obeikan’s float glass plant. This will allow “tight control of quality” says Abdallah Obeikan, CEO of Obeikan Investment Group, “to optimise the production and logistics costs, and to achieve higher margins.”
The coatings are used to block out excess heat from the sun to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Obiekan Glass is owned by the Saudi Arabian industrial entities, Obeikan Investment Group and Saudi Advanced Industries Company.
In October this year, owner of AGC Glass, Asahi Glass, converted one of its solar glass factories in China to make automotive products, at a cost of ¥4.5 billion (US$45.8 million), and also closed a PV glass plant in the US and a raw glass facility serving the Philippines’ PV market, in 2012. AGC also produces BIPV products for the European and Japanese markets.
Middle East solar glass market has grown 4% a year, and is estimated to continue as demand for energy saving improvements increases.
The region has ambitous PV deployment goals. It is widely expected to expand its own domestic PV manufacturing capabilities to enable it to capture more of the value chain as its solar deployment levels grow with glass for modules identifed as one component that could be produced locally.