This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 09, 2007

Solar Manufacturing Takes Flight in the United States

With a growing demand for solar power in the United States, the U.S. solar manufacturing industry is also growing at a record pace. In March, SolarWorld AG announced plans to build a facility in Hillsboro, Oregon, that will produce 500 megawatts (MW) of solar cells each year by 2009. The company, a leading solar manufacturer, intends to start production at the site this summer at a rate of 100 MW per year, and will also expand its solar module factory in Camarillo, California, to match the capacity of its solar cell factory. In April, Evergreen Solar, Inc. announced plans to build a solar cell manufacturing plant in Westborough, Massachusetts, with the capacity to produce 70 MW of solar cells annually. The company also boosted its supply of polysilicon. See the press releases from SolarWorld and Evergreen Solar.

The expansion in silicon solar cell production is being accompanied by an expansion in the production of polysilicon, the key raw material for these solar cells. In late March, Hoku Materials broke ground on a facility in Pocatello, Idaho, that will be able to produce 2,000 metric tons of polysilicon per year. In mid-April, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell announced that AE Polysilicon Corporation would build a new facility in Bucks County. In late April, the Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) announced that it would add 6,000 metric tons of annual production capacity at its polysilicon facility in Butte, Montana. And in early May, Hemlock Semiconductor topped them all by announcing plans to increase polysilicon production at its plant in Hemlock, Michigan, by 17,000 metric tons per year by 2010. The company, a subsidiary of Dow Corning Corporation, plans to invest $1 billion in the expansion, which will serve both the solar power and semiconductor industries. See the press releases from Hoku on the factory plans and the groundbreaking, as well as the press releases from Governor Rendell, REC, and Dow Corning.