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Repsol increasing capacity to profit from demand for photovoltaics

Integrated petrochemicals and plastics supplier Repsol says it will invest in its Puertollano, Spain site to increase the production capacity there of ethylene vinyl acetate copolymers (EVA). The new production unit will be able to produce 15,000 tonnes/yr, with the possibility to achieve vinyl acetate (VA) contents exceeding 35%. Puertollano also is home to the Puertollano Photovoltaic Park, the fourth largest photovoltaic power station in the world.

According to a recent report, while as yet comprising a small fraction of the world's electricity-generating capacity, solar photovoltaics is the fastest growing electricity-generation technology in the world. The cost of photovoltaics has declined steadily since the first solar cells were manufactured. Plastic films can be used to encapsulate and protect solar cells from the elements.

Repsol (Madrid, Spain) plans its investment for the second half of this year. This EVA capacity increase is one of a series of investments planned for Repsol's Puertollano production facility, says the supplier.

The company has made other moves in the past few years to strengthen its EVA presence. During 2009, Repsol converted of one of its EVA copolymer units (including 5% - 20% of VA content) to EVA with VA content of 20% - 40%. Additionally, in June 2010 Repsol implemented process changes in another of its EVA copolymer units to adapt it to the demands of specialized film converters. Because of this change and process improvement, Repsol says it has been able to reduce significantly the potential off-spec production associated to this type of film grade production.

During 2010 Repsol consolidated its ethylene butyl acrylate copolymers' (EBA) production capacity at its Sines site in Portugal, increasing the production of EBA copolymers there as an alternative to the EVA copolymers' production at Puertollano.

Repsol produces EVA and EBA copolymers and resins with co-monomer contents that may range from 5% - 40%, and melt flow indexes (MFI) exceeding 800 dg/min. Repsol is one of the ten largest privately owned companies in the world and the largest private energy company in Latin America, in terms of assets.

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