Exploration #241 Usine verre vert. This factory was a large glassworks producing fireproof glass and ultra-transparent glass for photovoltaic panels.

The company was in excellent health during the last century and, after merging with another Belgian glassworks and being taken over by a leading Japanese flat glass manufacturer, became one of the country’s largest producers. The ever-increasing demand for solar panels at the beginning of the new millennium led between 2004 and 2007 to an increase in production capacity and a major investment to modernise the glass melting furnace.

No one imagined that only a few years later, starting as early as 2011, the situation would change dramatically: as a result of cheap imports of special glass, or just the already assembled solar panel, from China, the European solar glass market went into crisis, causing the entire industry to suffer heavy losses. Usive verre vert eventually closed its doors on 31 December 2014, leaving 190 employees jobless.

After the bankruptcy, almost all the machinery was dismantled and sold to other factories or as scrap. Only the large new furnace remained in the buildings, impossible to demolish due to the huge block of glass that solidified inside it after the shutdown. Of the older installations, however, almost nothing remained. The only survivor was a small room in an electrical cabin in which there were two rotary converters, although much vandalised, probably in service in the first half of the 20th century.

Usine verre vert is not the only abandoned glass factory in Belgium; you can have a look also at the Cristalleries du Val St Lambert.