The Dow Chemical Company (DOW) has commenced producing the ENLIGHT polyolefin encapsulant films at its Map Ta Phut manufacturing facility in Thailand. These novel encapsulant films have been designed for use in photovoltaic solar panels. Photovoltaics is the conversion of sunlight into electricity.
The Michigan-based company sees strong market demand for these films and stated that this new production capacity will help it address the needs of this rapidly growing sector. Demand for photovoltaic modules has been forecast to grow 20% annually over the next several years. The state-of-the-art Map Ta Phut facility will enable the company to immediately double its global production capacity.
The facility, which has been constructed with latest energy efficiency techniques, will help the company boost its foothold in Thailand, which houses its largest manufacturing operations in Asia-Pacific. Dow, in May 2012, said that it is building a new production facility for making ENLIGHT encapsulant films in Schkopau, Germany. This new facility, which is expected to come online in late 2012, will also provide additional capacity.
Dow offers several commercial grades of ENLIGHT Films that helps customers meet their specific needs. These films offers better module stability and increased electrical performance vis-à-vis conventional encapsulants such as ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA)-based materials.
Unlike traditional films, ENLIGHT increases long-term efficiency of photovoltaic panels, help improve service life, retain module reliability and allows the industry to rein in overall system costs. Modules made with ENLIGHT have shown to maintain efficiency levels even after more than 10,000 hours of damp heat exposure compared with 2,000 hours for EVA-based materials. The ENLIGHT films enables panel manufacturers to potentially increase yield and capacity by reducing production time by up to 30%.
Dow continues to develop technologies that exploit the power of the sun and helps in converting solar energy into an efficient source of electricity. In addition to ENLIGHT, the company's other notable offering include the DOW POWERHOUSE solar shingle roof system.
Dow recently posted tepid second-quarter 2012 results. The company earned 55 cents a share in the quarter which largely missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 64 cents. Profit skid a roughly 34% year over year, hammered by the beleaguered economic conditions in Europe and weak demand.
Revenues slid 10% year over year to $14,513 million, also falling behind the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $15,961 million. Sales declined across all segments except Agricultural Sciences which achieved double-digit growth in the quarter.
Dow is benefiting from strong fundamentals in agriculture and food markets. However, weakness in the electronics and construction end-markets may linger moving ahead. Moreover, the company will continue facing challenges in Western Europe due to weak demand and the sovereign debt crisis.
Dow, which competes with E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DD), currently holds a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).