Changzhou Almaden Expects 20% Increase in Solar Glass Shipments

Changzhou Almaden Stock Co. expects shipments of the anti-reflective glass it makes for solar panels to increase about 20 percent this year as global solar installations expand.

Shipments of the glass totaled more than 28 million square meters (302 million square feet) in 2014, Vice President Lin Jinhan said in a phone interview. The Chinese company has been innovating to produce “lighter and thinner” products, he said.

The forecast coincides with intensifying competition in the market for anti-reflective glass, which is driving gross margins lower. The industry in China is also facing questions about quality.

China’s regulators last year found defects in the glass coating that allows solar panels to capture more light. About 23 percent of samples taken from dozens of Chinese companies failed to meet requirements, according to a Beijing regulatory agency known as the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. Almaden wasn’t among the companies on the agency’s list.

The defects are a result of deteriorating production controls and limited inspection measures at some companies, Lin said.

The company is building a $20 million plant in Dubai to produce 100 megawatts of ultra-thin double-glazed solar panels annually, Lin said. The plant is expected to come online this year.

The new facility will add to the 450 megawatts of capacity the company owns in China. Lin expects more and more demand for such panels, which are designed to better dissipate heat and weigh less than typical solar panels because they use thinner levels of photovoltaic material.

The Changzhou, Jiangsu-based company said in September that it plans to set up a 1 billion yuan ($160 million) fund with Ningbo Hongshi Holding Investment Management Co.

— With assistance by Feifei Shen

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