The company says this investment will include the construction of a new building capable of housing several new EVA production lines and will provide the infrastructure for additional future capacity. The lines will be capable of manufacturing 2.35m wide sheets with the first production line scheduled to be completed by next June.
"Solutia is well-positioned to play a leading role in meeting the needs of the global renewable energy market," said Jeffry N. Quinn, chairman, president and CEO of Solutia Inc. "Combining EVA with our Saflex PVB encapsulant manufacturing capabilities in China positions Solutia as the only one-stop source for solar encapsulant solutions in the greater Asia Pacific region and around the globe."
According to the Solarbuzz industry report, Marketbuzz 2010, Chinese demand for EVA encapsulants is projected to almost triple by 2015 from its 2009 levels, with the greater Asia Pacific region expected to grow at a similar rate over the same period. "Since the majority of photovoltaic (PV) module production capacity is currently located in China, the addition of EVA lines in Suzhou will allow Solutia to cost-effectively serve local demand," said Tim Wessel, president of Solutia’s Advanced Interlayers division.
"Combined with Solutia’s world-class technical service and strong commercial team in Asia, this expansion allows us to provide total encapsulant solutions to solar module manufacturers in the region."
The Suzhou plant currently serves as a manufacturing site for the company’s Saflex polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayers for laminated glass. In June, it announced the completion of its acquisition of Etimex Solar’s Vistasolar EVA product line, thus "uniquely positioning Solutia as the sole global provider of both major encapsulants to the fast-growing PV industry".
In April, Solutia announced the addition of a second PVB manufacturing line within the existing footprint of the Suzhou plant, featuring enhanced capabilities to serve the architectural, photovoltaic and automotive markets in China and the broader Asia Pacific region.
Solutia’s Vistasolar encapsulants are currently manufactured in Dietenheim, Germany.