Kalban (second right) and Hanbali (second left) at a press conference to announce the breakthrough

Kalban (second right) and Hanbali (second left) at a press conference to announce the breakthrough

Innovative solar glass announced

The latest technology accentuates the UAE’s green policy and clears the way for the new joint venture firm to capture a sizeable share of the world’s global solar glass market

01 December 2013

IN a step that is set to revolutionise glass technology across the globe, Dubai Investments PJSC (DI), the largest investment company listed on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), announced the launch of the first-of-its-kind, coloured solar glass that generates energy onits own.

A new entity, Emirates Insolaire, has been formed to introduce the breakthrough concept worldwide. Emirates Insolaire is part of Glass LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dubai Investments.

Emirates Insolaire is a joint venture using Kromatix technology of Switzerland-based SwissINSO SA. The company will produce the solar glass at the Emirates Glass manufacturing facility in the UAE, which has been modified to adapt the new technology.

 The breakthrough glass, developed in close collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL – Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne), comes in virtually any colour. Optimised for both photovoltaic modules – which use cells to convert solar radiation into electricity – and solar thermal collectors, the glass provides a mat coloured, architecturally aesthetic appearance to solar panels, preserving more than 90 per cent of efficiency.

Emirates Insolaire is targeting 10 per cent of the global solar glass market within a short period. Over 1 billion sq m of solar glass – both photovoltaic and thermal – would be installed across the world by 2015, industry estimates reveal.

Khalid bin Kalban, managing director and CEO of Dubai Investments, said the revolutionary solar glass technology could literally transform the manner in which solar energy is used for homes, offices and commercial buildings. “This is a significant paradigm shift in solar glass technology, and we see significant growth opportunities going forward as we accelerate market penetration. The launch of this new technology and product is in line with the green initiatives undertaken by the Dubai government to diversify energy sources and we at Dubai Investments have remained committed to sustainable business practices which led us to the prestigious ISO certification for our DI headquarters building earlier this year.”

He added: “Kromatix is a first-of-its-kind business model not only in the region, but across the entire world. The technology is highly sustainable and is a major innovation for potential application in commercial and residential projects across the region – blessed with natural sunshine all year round. The solar glass will be launched in two phases – Phase One would involve glass adapted with the new technology while the second phase would encompass the manufacturing of the entire architectural panels. This launch is part of our commitment to adopting the latest technological innovation and making us the pioneers in the glass industry.”

Rafic Hanbali, chairman and CEO of SwissINSO, said the launch provides significant first-mover advantage, a one-stop complete process, especially considering that the market potential for coloured solar panel is huge. “The coloured solar glass technology is expected to become the norm and standard in the construction industry over the next three to five years, particularly when considering the present and expected growth of solar integration into buildings. These buildings, by will or by law, will have to become energetically independent and Kromatix is the only road available today for this integration.”

He added: “In order to maintain the high efficiency and provide the aesthetical appearance for the glass on façades, roof-tops and utility installations, the glass at Emirates Insolaire receives several treatments of interferential nano-metric layers on one side and surface treatment on the other side. The result is a beautiful, highly-efficient Kromatix glass for solar energy with a masking effect occulting the inner captors, resulting in a mat non reflective surface.”



The coloured solar glass technology has already generated a lot of interest in the sector, with clients across several markets including Switzerland, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, the US, Brazil, India, Singapore and the Dominican Republic, among others, lined up to receive and certify their panels with the new technology from the manufacturing unit in the UAE.

The photovoltaic market, in particular, has achieved exponential growth globally over the years. The market was 40 GW (gigawatts) in 2010, representing 200 million sq m of glass, and has grown 40 per cent year-on-year. The number of installations foreseen for 2015 is 160 GW – approximately 800 million sq m of glass. The thermal solar glass market was 183 million sq m in 2006, and has been growing by 12 per cent year-on-year since then. The faster growth pace today as well as for the future, is the photovoltaic integration on buildings.

The share of BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaic) for roofs and facades, one of the specialisations of Emirates Insolaire, is also witnessing rapid growth. It was 5 per cent a few years ago, and in the near future it is expected that the solar installations on roofs and facades will represent 60 per cent of the total solar market.

The solar glass generates electric power, has an aesthetic look and is highly sustainable. Each coloured solar panel with Kromatix technology can generate above 130 watts electric power per sq m on roofs or above 100 watts per sq m on façades. Approximately 2,000 panels on one building are capable of generating 200 KW electric power.

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