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Keeping wind and solar installations on track

09 June 2013

The 2013 Annual Energy Outlook from the US Energy Information Administration reveals that increased generation from renewable energy is expected to account for 32 percent of the overall US domestic growth in electricity generation from 2011 to 2040.

With this insight in mind, plus the compelling reports of global growth forecasts in renewable energy coming from the financial and market analyst sectors, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics has decided to develop its composite bearings portfolio for an expected surge in demand from renewable energy operations. 

The company's Bearings and Tolerance Rings Group already supplies composite bearings that can cope with the harsh conditions of both solar energy and wind turbine installations. Now, as part of its new strategic focus on renewable energy markets, Saint-Gobain has added the design engineering expertise of Edward Rumble to its team.

With his extensive design and engineering experience, Rumble will now lead the company’s efforts to develop the next generation of composite bearings for solar and wind applications. Rumble believes renewable energy, fuelled by innovative solar and wind turbine technologies, will prove to be the future of sustainable power generation, and he’s keen to see his new employer partnering with OEMs to deliver the products that will enhance the efficiency of this new generation of renewable energy installations.

For the solar market, Saint-Gobain manufactures a novel, maintenance-free composite bearing called SolGlide, featuring proprietary fluoropolymer compounds that are claimed to increase the long-term operational efficiency of solar equipment, reducing its energy consumption and cutting costs over the long-term.

SolGlide composite bearings are targeted specifically at so-called Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, where they are applied at pivot points in all major tracking systems. Rumble and his team of design engineers are currently working on new composite configurations for bearings that offer enhanced performance for large scale CSP projects. And for the wind turbine market, 2013 will see Saint-Gobain introducing a series of vibration-tolerant composite bearings to improve the availability of wind turbine installations.

Efforts within the operations of the company itself are also making significant strides in terms of sustainability. The US Environmental Protection Agency recently recognised Saint-Gobain with a 2013 Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award for “continued leadership in energy conservation” for the third consecutive year. Over the past year, the company achieved energy savings of three percent, equivalent to a reduction of more than 82 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

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