Polish tank manufacturer Galmet is about to diversify its business by launching a collector production facility in Glubczyce in the south-western province of Opolskie. Galmet is planning to produce two sizes of panels there: one with 1.6 m² and another with 2m². In September 2012, the company announced that the new factory should produce roughly 4,000 collectors per year. “We are in the process of completing the manufacturing line, so I would rather not confirm any numbers at this stage,” Miroslaw Piróg, Head of Technical Department Tanks at Galmet says to solarthermalworld.org. “We are planning to start collector production in a few weeks,” he adds.
The new line costs PLN 14 million (EUR 3.4 million, including machinery), of which PLN 4 million come from the EU. According to Piróg, the company will produce collectors under its own brand name, as well as for OEM customers.
Scientists from the Wroclaw University of Technology tested the new collector designed by Galmet's R&D department. Galmet had them test nine collector types with different coatings. Piróg says that the company will start producing its own absorbers, too. “At first, we will use ultrasonic-welded copper plates. But there are plans to also use aluminium plates soon.” The glass covers – made in Poland by DAGlass - are glued to the casing. The collectors are about to receive Solar Keymark certificates as well.
In addition, Galmet is thinking about producing its own pumps for solar systems. The company has already been manufacturing its own tanks, which means it should soon be able to offer complete solar thermal systems made in-house. “We will continue to sell purchased vacuum tube collectors under the brand name KSG,” confirms Piróg.
Galmet has 700 employees and is owned by Polish individuals. The company specialises in heat pumps, water heaters and central heating boilers. It had been preparing to invest in solar thermal collector production for a few years. The dynamics of the Polish solar thermal market, which exceeded 1 million of totally installed collector area at the end of December 2012, finally convinced the management that it was time to invest in company-own production capacities.
Marcin Czekanski is a business reporter based in Szczecin, Poland.