Over the past few posts, we’ve been exploring the world of glass and how it can go from being a pile of sand to a windshield or an ornamental rocking chair. We’ve gone through automotive glass, building glass, and the overall process of how to make glass. This time, we’ll be looking at a growing market: solar.

 Interest in solar panels is increasing as the search for renewable energy gains more attention and viability. Once, solar panels were a niche product that powered internal heaters in the 50’s. Now, however, the uses for solar panels are nearly endless.

With the growing use and availability of solar panels, the amount of glass dedicated to the creation of these units has also increased, making solar a key market in the glass industry.

 Glass is one of the key components of a functioning solar panel. In a solar panel, glass functions as the protective layer placed over the photovoltaic layer where energy is conducted. Cheap panels utilize float glass, and more expensive ones use tempered glass for added protection.

The pipeline of solar products is fairly straightforward. Glass is purchased from a float line directly or from a wholesaler by a solar panel manufacturer. These manufacturers have an end product that they are trying to produce, such as residential panels, that they either install themselves or sell off to an installer who interfaces with clients. Clients can range from homeowners who want to have a more efficient home energy solution, or an entire government installation.

 As demand for renewable energies grow, it is likely that the applications for solar panels will also grow exponentially. Accessibility is at an all-time high with companies like Tesla joining the game.Its inevitable that this market will continue to consume large amounts of glass.

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