Dow Corning has turned to renewable forms of energy to help power one of its largest manufacturing sites in Europe. More than 1,000 square meters of solar panels, installed on the roof and facades of office and production buildings, are expected to generate the amount of energy needed to satisfy the annual electricity needs of 35 households.
Dow Corning GmbH in Wiesbaden, Germany, partnered with ESWE, a local utility company that manages an Innovation and Climate Protection fund to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. This completely renewable energy source enables the company to decrease the total cost of its energy needs in the short- and longer term, and to contribute to more sustainable energy production for the region.
The energy generated by the Dow Corning solar panels is fed back into the local electricity grid. In return, the company benefits from subsidies to buy electricity for its own energy needs. Dow Corning Wiesbaden commits to re- invest 30 percent of these subsidies every year in sustainable energy projects aiming at reducing the site's total energy consumption.
The solar panel modules were supplied by Photowatt International SAS, one of the largest manufacturers of solar silicon ingots, wafers, cell and modules in Europe. They contain Dow Corning materials developed for use in photovoltaic (solar) cells and modules, including -- Dow Corning(R) PV 1101 SoG Silicon; a product launched in 2006 as a breakthrough solution to support increasing take up of solar energy.
"This project demonstrates what can be achieved when we are able to build strong relationships between our company, the local government, energy and material suppliers and environmental agencies. We can all work together in support of sustainability and energy efficiency," said Klaus Hoffmann, Dow Corning European Area President.
"Reducing energy use saves both natural resources and reduces emissions. This creates economic value for Dow Corning and a benefit to the environment and the community." He commented that several Dow Corning sites across Europe and the rest of the world are already participating in similar projects to increase energy efficiencies and reduce its environmental impact. "We are keen to take advantage of more opportunities like this one to actively engage in our global commitment to sustainability," Hoffmann added.
Dow Corning's commitment to solar solutions goes far beyond the installation of solar panels in Wiesbaden. In May 2007, the company announced the largest expansion in the history of the polycrystalline silicon industry - - a $1 billion investment in manufacturing capabilities for this critical material to offer broad availability of solar energy. Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation, in which Dow Corning owns a majority stake, manufactures 30 percent of the world's total supply of polycrystalline silicon.
As the photovoltaic industry (PV) assumes an increasingly important role in meeting the world's energy needs, the company is helping PV producers to grow by offering them an expanded portfolio of total solution packages for cell manufacturing, module assembly and installation across the value chain. Solution packages include high-performance encapsulants, adhesives, coatings, potting agents and sealants, as well as next-generation solar grade silicon.