Investment provides critical raw materials to solar cell
Dow Corning Corporation
announced today several billion dollars of investment to provide critical
materials to the fast-growing solar technology industry.
“Dow Corning and our Hemlock Semiconductor joint ventures hope to create a
viable solar industry that produces new, high
paying jobs, clean power technologies and a revitalized economy,” said
Stephanie A. Burns, Dow Corning’s chairman, president and CEO. “We’re
committing our resources, know-how and technology because we are confident that
solar technology represents a tremendous opportunity for both clean energy and economic growth.”
Dow Corning will begin manufacturing high purity monosilane, a
key specialty gas used to manufacture thin-film solar cells and liquid
crystal displays (LCDs). This investment includes construction of a new
monosilane manufacturing facility in Hemlock, Michigan, adjacent to Hemlock
Semiconductor Corporation’s polysilicon manufacturing site.
“This significant investment to become a leading supplier of
monosilane for thin film solar technology will expand our feedstock
offering and will further reinforce our position as a value-added material
supplier to the solar industry,” said Eric Peeters, global executive director,
of Dow Corning Solar Solutions.
The investment also includes up to $3.0 billion at Dow Corning joint
ventures Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation and Hemlock Semiconductor LLC.
The companies will expand Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation’s existing Michigan
manufacturing facility and build a new site in Clarksville, Tennessee to
increase manufacturing capacity for polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon) – the
cornerstone material used to manufacture most solar cells.
Construction of both the polysilicon expansions and the new monosilane site
will begin immediately.
These announcements solidify Dow Corning’s significant role in the
development of the two most common types of solar cells; crystalline-based and
thin-film solar cells. Crystalline-based solar cells use sliced
polysilicon as its main semi-conducting material. Thin-film solar cells
are made by depositing a thin film of silicon, enabled by monosilane, onto a
sheet of another material such as glass.
“The opportunity and need for solar energy is so great, there will be a need
for many solar technologies to flourish to meet global demand,” said
Peeters. “Dow Corning intends to offer options across the entire array of
solar technologies, allowing our customers to innovate freely.”
Other recent solar-related announcements by Dow Corning include:
In September 2008, Dow Corning
introduced a manufacturing process featuring new developmental silicone
materials - Dow Corning® PV-6100 Encapsulant series - that
significantly increases the production rate of solar panels, effectively
lowering the cost per watt of solar power.
In June 2008, Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation announced the start-up of 9,000 metric tons
of capacity at its newest polysilicon facility located at the company’s
Hemlock site. That expansion was part of a $500 million phased investment
announced in 2005 and 2006. Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation’s annual
capacity will be approximately 19,000 metric tons by the end of 2008, and the
Hemlock Semiconductor group plans to bring up to 10,000 metric tons of capacity
online each year until the completion of these announced expansions.
In May 2008, Dow Corning
opened its Solar Solutions Application Center in Freeland, Michigan (U.S.),
to enable collaboration with customers to develop, evaluate and pilot materials
solutions used to manufacture solar panels. The $3 million, 27,000-square foot,
state-of-the-art facility represents Dow Corning’s intention to be an active,
eager partner with researchers, producers and governments as we help develop
affordable and efficient solar energy for the global energy market.
In 2007, Dow Corning’s joint venture, Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation
announced the largest expansion in the history of the polycrystalline silicon
industry – $1 billion over the next four years to increase its
polycrystalline silicon capacity by 90 percent.
In 2006, Dow Corning
introduced PV 1101 Solar Grade Silicon—the first commercially available
metallurgical feedstock produced using large-scale manufacturing
processes—which can be blended with polysilicon to offer options to solar
About Dow Corning
Dow Corning provides performance-enhancing solutions to serve the diverse
needs of more than 25,000 customers worldwide. A global leader in silicones, silicon-based technology and
innovation, Dow Corning offers more
than 7,000 products and services via the company’s DOW CORNING® and XIAMETER® brands. Dow
Corning is a joint venture equally owned by The Dow Chemical Company and
Corning, Incorporated. More than half of Dow Corning’s annual sales are outside
the United States.
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