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Report | July 2018

Quality Pays Off

POWER TODAY recently visited Gujarat Borosil's state-of-art manufacturing unit in Bharuch. Known for many firsts, the company is fully geared up to take advantage of the solar wave, by manufacturing world's first 2 mm fully tempered solar glass, right here in India and market it globally. <br /> <br /> Gujarat Borosil (GBL) - promoted by Borosil Glass Works, manufacturer of the well-known BOROSIL range of labware, scientificware, and consumerware- set up its avant-garde sheet glass plant at Govali in Bharuch, Gujarat in 1994. Until July 2010, GBL was manufacturing finest quality sheet glass in the country and has been the largest exporter in this segment.<br /> <br /> When the solar sector started showing long-term promises, GBL set up a new facility in March 2010 to manufacture low iron solar glass for application in photovoltaic panels, flat plate collectors, and green houses.<br /> <br /> GBL's product is of international class and, currently, a significant portion of its production is being exported. Around 75 per cent of GBL's production is bought by Indian clients like Tata Power Solar, Bharat Heavy Electricals, Central Electronics, Rajasthan Electronics &amp; Instruments, and EMMVEE Photovoltaic Power. The rest is exported to European clients like Solar Watt and RECOM from Germany, Reden Solar and Voltec from France, and Trienergia and Sunerg from Italy. GBL also sells to countries like Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Poland, Estonia, Slovenia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, Kenya, USA, and Mexico.<br /> <br /> Solar energy is now receiving due importance within India, and GBL plans to expand its capacity in due course, with commitment to provide best value for money to its esteemed customers. <br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">New investments</span><br /> GBL plans to invest around Rs 4.35 billion to double its manufacturing capacity of tempered solar glass by fiscal 2020. The company currently manufactures 180 tonne per day of 2 mm tempered solar glass, which is used on existing glass modules to improve efficiency.<br /> <br /> About increasing its capacity to up to 400 tonne per day by 2020, <span style="font-weight: bold;">Pradeep Kheruka, Vice Chairman, GBL </span>says, 'Many domestic modules manufacturers are our clients and we are exporting nearly 25 per cent of our production. As our products are accepted both by domestic as well as international consumers, we want to increase the capacity significantly.'<br /> <br /> The company plans to invest around Rs 2.35 billion to set up a new manufacturing line with a daily capacity of 210 tonne. The new facility will be operational in 2019.<br /> 'Once this facility is operational, we will rebuild the existing facility and hope to increase the capacity to up to 200 tonne per day from 180 tonne at present,' he adds.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">Product</span><br /> 'Our 2 mm solar glass is not only lighter than the current world standard of 3.2 mm, but also absorbs less solar energy while allowing higher irradiance to reach the solar cell. It also helps boost output by as much as 30 per cent,' says Kheruka. This helps in harnessing solar energy more efficiently.<br /> <br /> The 2 mm solar glass enables the production of glass-to-glass modules, which are a quantum improvement over the existing modules available in the market. When such modules using bi-facial cells are installed on rooftops or on sand, the back of the module absorbs reflected light, thus boosting power output by as much as 30 per cent. <br /> <br /> The polymer back sheet used in conventional solar modules has been identified as an important source from which module failures arise. The glass used at the back in new modules will allow uniform and better heat dissipation, leading to a more stable operation of the panel, offering greater longevity. The glass-to-glass light weight modules can be installed on the roof or even as the roof itself without expensive structural reinforcements, thereby making it more economical for people to switch to solar energy.<br /> <br /> 'Such modules can be made to float directly on water, because excellent sealing made possible between glasses imparts unprecedented moisture resistance,' explains Kheruka. He adds that when large water bodies are covered with these floating modules, they will generate power, while greatly inhibiting evaporation and saving land use for cultivation. By using glass as the back sheet in a module, the failure rate plummets to about 1 per cent from the current 10 per cent. 'This is because most problems leading to module failure arise from the plastic back sheet. The module life stands extended to 40 years, instead of the current <br /> 25 years bringing down the cost of ownership per KW dramatically,' he added. <br /> <br /> GBL is the only producer of solar glass in the country and the product is well-accepted. The company is constantly evaluating to grow in this sector in domestic market and remain a dominant player. Its natural advantage of offering a shorter lead time to module manufacturers works favourably in helping it to secure business. <br /> <br /> Solar will be the driving force of energy generation, and reliance on fossil fuels is going to drop. This understanding is spreading to several countries around the world. Business is built upon years of trust and verification. GBL has been in this business for over eight years and has 30 certifications for their products from various accredited bodies. In addition, the laws require that all solar modules be certified with each component specified. All their customers have certified modules using GBL glass; so, they may continue buying from them without applying afresh. Any new manufacturer has to pass these tests before selling can take place.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">Stringent Quality Control</span><br /> Field trials at GBL's 302.4 kWp rooftop R&amp;D installation have conclusively proved that modules using solar glass from Gujarat Borosil have generated 7.5 per cent more electricity than those using solar glass from a leading European solar manufacturer. In fact, laboratory tests conducted at PhotoVoltaik-Institut AG, Berlin have established that solar glass from Gujarat Borosil has the highest resistance to PID (potential induced degradation) when compared with that from leading manufacturers in Europe and China. <br /> <br /> 'At 76 PPM, solar glass from Gujarat Borosil has the lowest iron content in the world,' says Kheruka proudly. <br /> <br /> What is more! GBL offers the only high-performance textured solar glass in the world, which is free of highly toxic antimony and arsenic. Laboratory measurements show that the anti-reflective coating offered by Gujarat Borosil has excellent durability as well as outstanding performance characteristics. That said, SPF, a leading test institute in Switzerland, whose report is widely accepted by manufacturers of photovoltaic modules, has measured the glass efficiency of the Gujarat Borosil product as 0.952, which is the highest among all glasses tested by them. <br /> <br /> GBL's in-house laboratory is fully equipped with the latest and most-advanced testing equipment to ensure top quality end product to the customer. The company has set up a task force to maintain and improve quality standards to match with the changes taking place in the global glass industry by availing the services of renowned technical experts.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">- RAHUL KAMAT</span><br />
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17 Oct 2016
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20 Jun 2016
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