Dow breaks ground in Schkopau, to make Polyolefin Encapsulant Films

The Dow Chemical Company announced that construction is underway for a new production facility for making ENLIGHT Polyolefin Encapsulant Films in Schkopau, Germany, scheduled for completion in late 2012. "The proximity to leading photovoltaic companies and research institutes in Central Germany and the good conditions at the Schkopau site offer excellent opportunities for cooperation," said Ralf Brinkmann, president of Dow in Germany. "This investment will also strengthen our research and product development in a growing market." The global market for solar panels expects an annual sales increase by about 25% in the next years. Dow offers a number of commercial grades of ENLIGHT Films, and also develops customer-specific formulations. These films provide greater module stability and improved electrical performance versus traditional encapsulants, such as EVA-based products. These encapsulant films are suitable for C-Si and thin-film modules. "Unlike conventional films, ENLIGHT Polyolefin Films increase long-term efficiency of photovoltaic panels, help extend service life, maintain module reliability and thus help the industry to reduce total system costs” said Friedrich von Rechteren, Global Business Development Manager Photovoltaics. Modules made with ENLIGHT films can retain efficiency levels after more than 10,000 hours of damp heat exposure. Dow testing shows that EVA-based materials typically show a sharp drop off in efficiency after 2,000 hours of use. With the new ENLIGHT films can embed the solar cells under wide temperature ranges and resulting bubbles can - unlike conventional films - are completely eliminated. This reduces waste and shortens the production time for the module manufacturers by up to 30 percent. With the new facility at Schkopau and another one that is currently under construction in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, Dow will more than triple its capacity for making specialty films used in photovoltaic solar modules. Both plants will join manufacturing capacity in Findlay, Ohio, that came on-stream in December 2010.
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