LONDON NXP BV, the chip company spun off from Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV, is in talks on the possibility of converting a 6-inch wafer fab at Nijmegen, The Netherlands, to solar cell production. NXP does not want to make solar cells itself but is interested in bringing a partner onto its Nijmegen site, according to CEO Rick Clemmer.
NXP is active in power semiconductors and power management for solar power and and lighting as part of its high-performance mixed-signal IC business strategy. The reuse of NXP wafer fabs for solar cell manufacture could be complementary, Clemmer told EE Times.
The company said in its fourth quarter financial results that it would close the 6-inch wafer fab at Nijmegen, known as ICN6, by early in 2011. Clemmer said that the "Redesign" program intended to achieve cost savings was ahead of schedule and would be expanded to include the closure of ICN6.
The company had previously announced the plan to close ICH in Hamburg, which closed in January, and ICN5 in Nijmegen, which is due to close at the end of the second quarter as part of the Redesign project.
Clemmer agreed that the making of solar cells from silicon is a potential use of former IC wafer fabs. With regard to Nijmegen Clemmer said: "There are opportunities to look at other production technologies. It's not something we want to pursue ourselves but if someone else wanted to do it. We have discussions going on."
When asked if the rapidly increasing demand for LED lighting was a reason for NXP to consider LED manufacture in its older wafer fabs, Clemmer said that LED manufacture was not interesting to NXP which was focused on LED driver ICs amongst other products. He added that there are no discussions on LED manufacture, only on solar power.
NXP announced a development partnership with Tata BP Solar India Ltd. (Bangalore, India), a joint venture of BP Solar and Tata Power in August 2009, under which Tata BP intends to use various electronic circuits for solar applications developed by NXP. These circuits have been developed by NXP to requirements provided by Tata BP.
The partnership was described as "long-term" and the two companies are expected to roll out electronic control products starting 2010.
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