MUNICH, Germany With the production of monocrystaline silicon wafers for solar cells, German renewable energy company Solarworld AG intends to widen its product spectrum. The devices will be produced in what Solarworld claims to be the USA's largest solar cell factory in Hillsborough, Orgeon.
In close vicinity to chip manufacturer Intel, Solarworld has bought a wafer fab from Japanese Komatsu group for 30 million ($39.6 million). Now the German concern plans to invest another 300 million into the integrated manufacturing line, covering the entire value chain from silicon to solar cell.
The production is scheduled to ramp up already in summer 2007, with a preliminary capacity target of 100 MW. Until 2009, the fab will be expanded to a capacity of 500 MW. In this context, Solarworld plans to move its solar wafer production from Vancouver to Hillsboro. In addition, the company intends to double the manufacturing capacity of its Camarillo, Calif. plant to 100 MW.
For its plans, Solarworld will receive an Oregon state aid, fed of its anti global warming program, the company said.
With the move, Solarworld hopes to significantly strengthen its position in the fast-growing US solar market. Besides its investment in Hillsboro, the company also plans to expand its plant in Freiberg, Germany. Target capacity is also 500 MW. Thus, the two plants combined will feature a capacity of more than 1 GW, explained Solarworld CEO Frank Asbeck.
In Freiberg, the company already employs almost 1000 persons. For Hillsboro, it announced to create "a large number of jobs", said Asbeck. But while Freiberg produces polysilicon wafers, the Hillsboro plant will focus on monocrystalline products, utilizing for the first time the technology from Royal Dutch Shell's solar activities the company had acquired about a year ago.
Consolidation to hit solar cell market