Australian PV glass developer sets sights on Japanese market


ClearVue Technologies has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Tomita Technologies for the sale and marketing of the Perth-based company’s smart solar PV glass products for use in greenhouses and protected cropping agriculture in Japan.

ClearVue is pursuing BIPV technology designed to preserve glass transparency while generating electricity with solar PV cells incorporated around the edges of an insulated glass unit (IGU).

The IGUs are currently being trialled on site at Perth’s Murdoch University where they have been installed in a commercial-scale greenhouse. Data supplied by the company indicates the technology delivers a minimum of 30 W per sqm while maintaining 70% transparency. ClearVue has said previously that in a greenhouse setting its technology delivers a temperature range of +/-2° from the optimum, providing an increased growth rate of up to 20-30%.

The greenhouse trial project, which is partially funded by a $1.6 million Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) grant, is expected to be officially opened later this month.

The five-year distribution agreement announced this week provides Tomita with an exclusive licence for the distribution, marketing and sales of ClearVue’s products for greenhouse and protected cropping agriculture applications in Japan.

Tomita is however excluded from selling or marketing the PV glazing products to the general construction market in Japan, including high-rise construction which ClearVue has previously identified as a key focus of its business model.

“The distribution agreement with Tomita Technologies follows ClearVue’s work on establishing greenhousing and protected cropping agriculture as a key application for ClearVue’s world leading solar PV glazing solution,” ClearVue executive chairman Victor Rosenberg said.

“Tomita originally reached out to ClearVue in 2020 following our announcement of the work we had started on the CRC-P partially funded greenhouse that the company has just recently finished building at Murdoch University in Western Australia.”

Workers install ClearVue’s transparent solar PV glass on site at Murdoch University.

Image: ClearVue

The Japanese deal will focus on greenhouse and protected cropping agriculture applications with Tomita one of the country’s leading suppliers to the sector. Established in 1947, the Yokahama-based company was responsible for the installation of more than 250,000 square metres of greenhousing in the past 15 years alone.

ClearVue said Tomika also provides agribusiness consulting services for growers and plant factory management advice, including those growers who are deploying technology to upgrade existing greenhouse facilities.

“Tomita Technologies is the Japanese leader in horticulture and greenhouse solutions,” company president Hiraaki Tomita said.

“To maintain our place as the leader in this space we are always on the lookout for world-leading products and solutions that we can implement into our client projects and for our own greenhousing projects.

ClearVue claims its solar glass technology provides 70% transparency.

Image: ClearVue

“We are confident that the use and integration of the ClearVue PV solar glazing into our sales offering – with its ability to maintain a highly controlled microclimate within a greenhouse whilst at the same time generating electricity for use in reducing costs of greenhouse operation – will be a fantastic proposition for our customer project deployments, whether for new projects, or for greenhouse upgrade and renewal projects and will help us to maintain our place as the Japanese leader in the greenhousing industry.”

The Tomita distribution agreement is ClearVue’s second foray into the Japanese market after high-profile Fujisan Winery placed an order in November for approximately 30sqm of the company’s PV glazing product for use in a greenhouse to be built at the winery at the base of Mount Fuji.

That deal came after ClearVue announced it October it had secured its first South American order with AMB Brazil placing an order for 500 sqm of solar glass. AMB Brazil will use the IGUs in large-scale commercial projects, including a new office tower and at the company’s own offices in Sao Paulo.

ClearVue has also entered the China market, announcing in September that a demonstration villa had been constructed in Beijing in conjunction with Jinmao Green Building which is trialling the PV IGU technology with a view towards distribution.

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