Wed, Nov 01, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Government drafts plans to develop solar cell materials

MATERIAL SUPPLY The plan is aimed at attracting foreign companies and technologies to boost the nation's fledgling solar cell materials industry

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Industrial Development Bureau has unveiled a project to boost the nation's capability in manufacturing raw materials for solar cell products, with the aim of raising annual production to NT$22 billion (US$661 million) by the end of 2010, from an estimated less than NT$1 billion this year.

The bureau plans to allocate NT$5 million next year to map out a four-year project to introduce major foreign companies and technology into the country, according to a statement released by the bureau last week.

The bureau is currently in talks with several major raw material suppliers about forming joint ventures with local companies and setting up factories in Taiwan, Liu Nai-yuan (劉乃元), an official of the bureau, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

These companies include polysilicon suppliers US-based Hemlock Semiconductor Corp, Norway's Renewable Energy Corp (REC) and Japan's Tokuyama Corp.

Others on the shortlist include silver-aluminum paste maker DuPont, and low iron glass manufacturers PPG Industries Corp and Asahi Glass Co, according to the bureau.

The companies are still evaluating the proposal, as the estimated investment will be at least NT$5 billion, Liu said.

By developing the sector, the bureau hopes to help local solar cell makers secure raw material supply, with an aim of boosting the industry's self-sufficiency rate to 50 percent by the end of 2010, the statement said.

Currently, most local solar cell makers source their materials abroad. E-ton Solar Tech Co (益通光能), the nation's second-largest player, just signed a contract with Japan-based M. Setek Co on Monday to secure 1,200 megawatts of silicon wafer for the next 10 years.

Liu said that the bureau would also help local companies develop peripheral materials.

Formosa Plastics Corp (台塑) and Gigastorage Corp (國碩科技) have applied to join the project, he said, adding that bureau would make a decision before the end of the year.

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