From Spandex to Solar: DuPont Poised for PV Growth

By Jennifer Kho in Earth2Tech, February 14 2010

Look at a solar panel and you might think of its manufacturer or installer, or maybe – if you’re a true solar geek – the company that made the cells inside the panel. But when Marc Doyle, global business director for DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions, looks at a panel he sees all the little overlooked pieces that enable it to work properly: the conductive silver metal lines, the front and back sheets and the encapsulant to protect the cells. That’s because nearly all are made by DuPont, and as Doyle puts it, “What you’re looking at is a bunch of DuPont stuff. But nobody looks at it this way except for DuPonters.”

Because while DuPont, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, has been actively providing critical materials to the solar industry for the last 25 years, solar is one of the last industries that the company’s name conjures up for most people –- well behind, say, chemicals, agriculture or materials like nylon and lycra (commonly called spandex). Now DuPont is looking to change that.

DuPont has an aggressive goal to boost its solar business from $400 million in 2008, to more than $1 billion in solar sales in 2012 — a big number in the solar biz, but a figure that would actually make up less than 4 percent of DuPont’s overall 2009 sales of $27.33 billion. Doyle told us DuPont is on track to meet that goal, and its sales in the solar PV market grew more than 30 percent in 2009, and are expected to grow 25 percent this year.

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