Although the auto industry may be struggling, the solar industry in Michigan is growing.
Dow Corning and Hemlock Semiconductor announced they will invest close to $3 billion to increase production of polysilicon, a key raw material used in the manufacturing of most solar cells, to generate approximately 7,000 megawatts of electricity annually when fully integrated into solar panels.
The investment includes construction of a new manufacturing facility in Hemlock, Michigan, and expands Hemlock Semiconductor Corp's existing Michigan manufacturing facility, employing 800 construction workers and creating up to 300 new permanent solar jobs when expansion is complete.
The companies are the first to take advantage of Michigan's "anchor" legislation that was recently passed that offers incentives for clean energy industry companies to grow and expand.
In Michigan, Dow Corning is building a monosilane manufacturing facility, which will produce high purity monosilane, a key specialty gas used to manufacture thin-film solar cells and liquid crystal displays (LCDs). The plant will be adjacent to Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation's polysilicon manufacturing site, which will also be expanded. The total investment in Michigan is expected to be about $3 billion.
The companies will also invest $1.2 billion to build a plant in Clarksville, Tennessee to expand polysilicon manufacturing capacity. About 1000 construction workers will build the plant over the next 5-7 years, employing 500-800 people upon completion.
Construction of both the polysilicon expansions and the new monosilane site will begin immediately.
"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 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."
Dow Corning is now significantly involved in producing both types of solar cells; crystalline-based and thin-film solar cells.
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 May 2008, Dow Corning opened a $3 million, 27,000 square foot Solar Solutions Application Center in Freeland, Michigan, to enable collaboration with customers to develop, evaluate and pilot materials solutions used to manufacture solar panels.
- 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%.