Saint-Gobain Solar Energy Invests in New Plant, the Company’s First in U.S.

New manufacturing facility in Goodyear, Arizona, highlights Saint-Gobain’s commitment to innovation in renewable energies, concentrated solar power technology.

Saint-Gobain announced that construction work on Saint-Gobain Solar’s mirror line for concentrating solar thermal power stations has begun. Located in Goodyear, Ariz., (near Phoenix), the plant will be Saint-Gobain Solar’s first manufacturing facility in North America. The facility will supply primarily the domestic market and will eventually produce millions of square feet of solar mirrors for thermal power station technologies (concentration towers, linear Fresnel lenses, etc.).

The new solar mirror line is planned to come on stream in the last quarter of this year and will produce 50 new jobs for the area. This investment complements Saint-Gobain’s current solar mirror production base, which includes a parabolic mirrors plant in Portugal and a flat mirrors facility in Germany.

"Our strategic decision to expand manufacturing into the United States confirms the importance of this market in our business portfolio," said Fabrice Didier, Managing Director of Saint-Gobain Solar. "The new facility will be working with the best technology available."

The plant’s projected production capacity corresponds to an annual thermal power output of 300MW, or the equivalent annual energy requirements for an American town of 150,000 inhabitants. Every year, the green energy produced using this plant’s mirrors will enable a saving of up to 320,000 tons of carbon dioxide (which would have been generated by a coal-fired power plant), the equivalent of replanting nearly 62,000 acres of forest.

According to Alain Garnier, Director of Saint-Gobain Solar North America, local production of solar mirrors in Arizona accelerates the company’s plans for growth in the North American solar market.

"Local production of solar mirrors means we are now able to offer the same quality solar products in the United States as we do in Europe," said Garnier. "Perhaps just as important, local production also means a reduction in our carbon footprint regarding the transportation of these products over long distances.

"We are grateful to the state of Arizona, which has adopted a proactive policy to encourage companies from the solar sector to establish manufacturing plants," adds Garnier. "The Arizona Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program helped to encourage us to select the state for our new plant. Following a tough selection process, we chose to set up our plant in the Phoenix area, in Goodyear, where we are pleased to have been very positively received."

With this new mirrors line, which is Saint-Gobain’s only plant dedicated to the solar thermal market in the United-States, the company has taken one step further in its commitment to the renewable energies market and solar concentrators in particular.

"The new manufacturing facility in Goodyear highlights Saint-Gobain’s commitment to innovation in renewable energies and solar technology in North America and around the world," said John Crowe, President and CEO of Saint-Gobain Corporation (Saint-Gobain’s North American holding company). "We are proud to help lead the drive to save energy by investing strongly in solar power as well as the development of other sustainable energy-efficient building products and technologies for communities around the world."

Endorsements of this project include:

Mayor Georgia Lord, Goodyear, Ariz.:

"Goodyear is honored to have Saint-Gobain, one of the top 100 worldwide companies and a leader in the solar industry, build its first North American solar facility in our city. We’re pleased the state solar incentive program that Goodyear worked so hard on has brought us such a prominent solar partner."

Arizona Commerce Authority President and CEO Don Cardon:

"Saint-Gobain chose the perfect location to begin its operations in Arizona. Its expansion to Goodyear means more jobs for Arizonans and helps solidify Arizona as the solar capital of the world. Saint-Gobain is wisely taking advantage of aggressive tax incentives and Arizona’s pro-business climate. We welcome them to Arizona."

Greater Phoenix Economic Council President and CEO Barry Broome:

"Saint-Gobain Solar is a welcome addition to Greater Phoenix’s growing solar supply chain and further enhances our reputation as the nation’s hotspot for solar and renewable energy. Investments from major international corporations like Saint-Gobain exemplify how the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program is creating quality jobs and building a sustainable economic platform for the region’s future."

Located in 64 countries with around 190,000 employees, Saint-Gobain, world leader in habitat, designs, manufactures and distributes building materials providing innovative solutions to meet the challenges of growth, energy saving and environmental protection. Saint-Gobain Solar groups together Saint-Gobain businesses in the solar sector. Present along the whole value chain, Saint-Gobain Solar focuses its strategy on several activities:

the production of high-performance mirrors for concentrating solar thermal power plant operators,
the manufacturing of high-tech components for PV modules (special glass, high-performance plastics, etc.),
the production, via its Avancis business, of thin-film PV modules using CIGS technology (Copper – Indium – Gallium – Selenide) for distributors, systems integrators and solar power station operators,
the design and marketing of PV solutions for residential, tertiary, industrial and agricultural buildings.

Saint-Gobain, the world’s largest building materials company, has its North American headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. As the world leader in sustainable habitat, Saint-Gobain is committed to inventing solutions to help professionals and communities around the world build and renovate comfortable, healthy, economical and energy-efficient buildings. The company has more than 265 locations in North America and approximately 19,000 employees. In the United States and Canada, Saint-Gobain reported sales of approximately $7.3 billion in 2010.

Recognized as a 2009 and 2010 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Saint-Gobain earned the 2011 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award, the highest level of recognition for outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency.