Solar Gard® Invests $12 Million in Manufacturing to Meet Solar Power Demand

To meet increasing demand for its Quantum® and Solar Gard® branded window films and photovoltaic backsheet, Solar Gard® today announced plans to construct a new manufacturing facility in Qingdao, China. News of the state-of-the art manufacturing plant in Shandong province was announced at Solar Gard’s Annual Asian Distributor Conference in Xi Shuang Ban Na.

Solar Gard is the first window film manufacturer to have a dedicated global production footprint with assets on three continents, all of which are supported by its San Diego, CA, headquarters and flagship manufacturing and R&D site. Technical, manufacturing and managerial employees will be hired for the Qingdao operations and to support the global expansion. Expected to open in early 2012, the Qingdao coating and laminating site will service customers predominantly in China and throughout Asia, and is projected to contribute 25 percent revenue growth to Bekaert Specialty Films global operations.

With an estimated 200 million automobiles on the roads by 2020, China represents the largest automotive market in the world. Vehicle sales in 2011 are expected to reach 20M, and an additional 15 percent growth in aftermarket products is anticipated. Bekaert Specialty Films’ established nationwide network of dealers and distributors across the country, along with strategic partnerships with major automotive manufacturers in the region, will ensure seamless distribution from the new plant.

“Solar Gard’s investment in China is part of our long-term strategy to be the global leader in window and specialty films and puts us right in the heart of our fastest growing market where speed, innovation and customer service are critical to success,” said Christophe Fremont, president of Bekaert Specialty Films, LLC, manufacturer of Solar Gard and Quantum window films and the visionary behind the energy portfolio strategy at the Company. "Our customer needs for both superior quality and environmentally-friendly products are also anticipated to drive significant growth in Solar Gard’s carbon-negative solar control architectural films and photovoltaic backsheet."

Solar Gard architectural films help lower the carbon footprint of buildings where they are installed by reducing energy use up to 30 percent through reduction in solar heat gain through windows. China has more than 2 billion square meters of existing urban glazing and in 2010 the Chinese government signed agreements with 5000 companies to cut energy consumption and reduce carbon emissions.

Solar energy is one of the fastest growing energy sources in the world; cumulative installed solar PV capacity more than doubled since 2007, and the Solar Energy Industries Association predicts solar energy installations will reach 980 GW by 2020. Today, over 70 percent of the PV module manufacturers are located in Asia, and the Qingdao manufacturing facility will allow Solar Gard to significantly expand its capacity to serve these manufacturers with volume and competitive cost levels for Tedlar®/PET/Tedlar® (TPT) and next-generation backsheet materials.

The Qingdao manufacturing plant will meet California’s stringent EPA standards and will pursue ISO 14001:2004 certification. These investments are aligned with the Company’s commitment to environmental responsibility and the publication of its Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) – an industry first and the largest ever EPD performed to date.

Solar Gard positively impacts lives with products that protect, save and renew. Solar Gard’s architectural, automotive and industrial films are manufactured by Bekaert Specialty Films, LLC, part of Bekaert (Euronext Brussels: BEKB), a global company that employs over 25 000 people worldwide and serves customers in 120 countries. With environmental responsibility as a core mission, Solar Gard has certified its carbon footprint and earned the title of Climate Action Leader. Its architectural solar control window films are proven carbon negative, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and have been verified as having a net positive impact on the environment; Solar Gard products are sold in more than 90 countries and provide a living for thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide.

Bekaert is present with a manufacturing platform in China since the early nineties. The company experienced significant growth in China in recent years and operates 17 sites at 8 locations there (Shenyang, Weihai, Jiangyin, Wuxi, Shanghai, Suzhou, Chongqing, Huizhou), including 13 manufacturing plants, an R&D center and Engineering plant, a trading company, and the Regional Headquarters Bekaert Asia in Shanghai. At present, 10 000 people are working for Bekaert in China.