Hemlock, Michigan [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Industry is slowly starting to respond to the growing demand for silicon, the raw material essential for 90 percent of the solar electric market. Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation — which claims it is world’s leading producer of polycrystalline silicon — will begin construction of a $400-$500 million expansion at its Hemlock, Michigan, headquarters in December.The company cited increasing demand for polycrystalline silicon for the solar market as the key driver for this expansion and expects the solar energy industry to grow at a 20-25 percent rate over the next 10 years. “Innovation in the solar energy industry is providing excellent opportunities for businesses, people, and the environment,” said Marie N. Eckstein, Dow Corning’s general manager of Advanced Technologies and Ventures. “Both Hemlock Semiconductor and Dow Corning will continue to research and develop opportunities to enhance solar technology.” The Hemlock Semiconductor expansion will increase site capacity by 50 percent, and is expected to generate more than 100-150 full-time direct jobs, and an equal number of contractor positions in the next three years. Additionally, there will be 400 temporary local contractor jobs created during construction of the expansion. Phase one of the two-phase expansion project is expected to be completed in January 2008, with a potential second phase concluding a year later. Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation is a joint venture of Dow Corning Corporation and two Japanese firms, Shin-Etsu Handotai Company, Ltd. and Mitsubishi Materials Corporation. In addition to serving the solar energy market, the company also provides materials used in the production of semiconductor devices used in computers, cell phones and other electronic applications.