Dow Corning to invest millions in solar power industry

Dow Corning Corp. 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).

The investment includes up to $3 billion at Dow Corning joint ventures Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. and Hemlock Semiconductor LLC. The companies will expand Hemlock Semiconductor Corp.’s existing Michigan manufacturing facility and build a new site in Clarksville, Tenn., 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 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 Eric Peeters, global executive director, of Dow Corning Solar Solutions. “Dow Corning intends to offer options across the entire array of solar technologies, allowing our customers to innovate freely.”

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