Saint-Gobain Signs MOU To Set Up Company In Solar Energy Sector In Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia may be known for its  controversial conservative views and huge oil resources, but little is known about the fact that they are heavily investing in renewable technology that will change the way they use their fossil fuel resources in the future.

The signing ceremony was held in Torgau, Germany, where Saint-Gobain’s Avancis affiliate operates one of the world’s most modern thin film Photovoltaic (PV) module plants.

Saint-Gobain, represented by Jean-Pierre Floris, Senior Vice-President and President of the Innovative Materials Sector has signed an M.O.U. with HRH Prince Faisal Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to set up a high-tech company in the solar energy sector in Saudi Arabia.

Under the terms of the Memorandum, Saint-Gobain shall provide technical assistance and engineering expertise to build and operate a CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium, Selenide) thin film PV module manufacturing facility in KSA. This project is part of a larger program which includes the construction of solar power plants in the Kingdom.

This strategic alliance will lay the foundation for other businesses in the field of solar. Furthermore, it will accelerate the development of solar power plants equipped with modules manufactured in Saudi Arabia using Avancis CIGS technology.

The solar electricity generated using sunlight could lead to a reduction in the consumption of crude oil. Fully aligned with K.A.CARE’s* strategic priorities, this program will enable the development of a competitive manufacturing base in the Kingdom. K.A.CARE has been established in April 2010 by Royal Decree and is in charge of developing nuclear and renewable energy in the Kingdom. It has set itself the target to install 41 GWp of solar power by 2032 – of which 16 GWp should be contributed by PV power generation.

‘We are very honored to work together with HRH Prince Faisal, leveraging our technology and manufacturing expertise to make solar energy a competitive source of electricity for the Kingdom. The cost of the electricity produced in this way will have a very strong local content,’ commented Jean-Pierre Floris.

HRH Prince Faisal emphasized the Kingdom will benefit in two different ways as a result of this partnership. ‘On the one hand, it is going to result in an alternative and efficient way of producing electricity and on other hand, the introduction of very innovative technology to the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia will be the outcome.’

Based on depositing CIGS thin films on a glass substrate, the technology developed by Avancis avoids using traditional crystalline silicon, enabling low production costs, like other thin-film based techniques, while its electrical efficiency (over 12% industrially and up to 20% in laboratory) is comparable to the higher yields produced by polycrystalline silicon modules. Easy-to-mount, attractive and reliable, CIGS thin-film based modules are recommended for both solar fields and rooftop installations.

(*): King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.

Saint-Gobain, the world leader in the habitat and construction markets, designs, manufactures and distributes building materials, providing innovative solutions to the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. With 2011 sales of €42.1 billion, Saint-Gobain operates in 64 countries and has nearly 195,000 employees.

In the solar sector, Saint-Gobain Solar has two main independent activities:

  • The manufacturing and sale of high-tech components for PV modules (special glass, high performance plastics…) and high performance mirrors for solar thermal plant operators.
  • The design, manufacturing and sale of Avancis’s PowerMax®thin-film PV modules using CIGS (Copper – Indium – Gallium – Selenide) technology, and innovative PV systems for all types of rooftop and solar field.