Faced to the mass use of fossil resources and their harmful effects on the environment, it is essential to develop cleaner alternative energy sources. Photovoltaic energy is one of these alternative energy sources.
Worldwide energy needs, more than 80% of which are based on fossil fuels, continue to grow and this is mainly due to the emergence of certain economies: they could increase by 55% between now and 2030. The reserves of fossil resources are decreasing and the pollution caused by burning them, which generates CO2, a greenhouse gas, is partly responsible for global warming.
Photovoltaic energy is a renewable energy source and an alternative to oil. It directly converts sunlight into electricity. This is a complex transformation that requires the use of photovoltaic panels.
Two main technologies are currently used: traditional technology, known as "crystalline" (85 % of the total market) and the most innovative technique, using thin layers, which currently only represents 15 % of the market, but is rapidly growing.
Whichever technology is considered, the manufacturing of photovoltaic panels requires huge quantities of extremely high purity gases.
Air Liquide is world leader in the supply of gases to the photovoltaic industry and serves more than half of the ten major manufacturers of crystalline silicon solar panels.
The Group supplies silane, in particular, the "doping" gases that change the electronic properties of silicon and are used to produce the electricity, and the carrier gases that transport them.
The Group is also involved in research programs in Europe, America and Asia to develop technologies that use the gases more efficiently and to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing of panels.