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Solar Booms Worldwide

by Mitch Jacoby
June 1, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 22

Despite the recession, silicon makers, industrial gas suppliers, and solar-cell manufacturers continue to charge ahead with new projects around the globe aimed at increasing solar power supply. Hemlock Semiconductor, a joint venture of Dow Corning, Shin-Etsu Handotai, and Mitsubishi Materials, has started up an 8,500-metric-ton-per-year polycrystalline silicon facility in Hemlock, Mich., to supply makers of solar cells and semiconductors. Wacker Schott Solar, a joint venture between Wacker Chemie and Schott Solar, has commissioned a factory in Jena, Germany, that will produce enough polysilicon wafers to enable 275 MW of electricity output at the site by 2012. In Italy, Linde Gases won a contract to supply high-purity gases to Moncada Energy, which is building the country's first thin-film solar-module plant, in Campofranco, Sicily. In Asia, Japan Solar Silicon's planned solar polysilicon plant in the country's Ibaraki prefecture will have an annual capacity of 4,500 metric tons instead of the 3,000 metric tons it envisaged earlier. The plant, scheduled to be fully operational in 2013, will implement an improvement of the traditional Siemens process by making use of recyclable silicon tetrachloride as a raw material. In Singapore, Air Liquide will supply REC Group's polysilicon production site with carrier and specialty gases when it starts up in 2010. Air Liquide has also signed a contract to supply carrier gases to four facilities run by solar-cell maker Suntech Power in China and Japan.


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