GT Solar Secures International Partnership

Three times was the New Hampshire charm for W.S. Lin, the president of Tatung in Taiwan. Lin and Kedar Gupta, the CEO of GT Equipment Technologies in Merrimack, New Hampshire, closed a US$ 14 million contract to supply Tatung subsidiary Green Energy Technology (GET) with a 25 MW turn-key silicon solar wafer production line during Lin’s third visit to the Granite State.

Merrimack, New Hampshire — August 5, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Tatung is a publicly owned company that started out in the electronics business in 1918 producing electric fans. Televisions, household appliances, semiconductor wafers and a university system have been added on to the company’s accomplishments since Lin’s grandfather started the business almost a century ago, and solar wafers were a natural next step. “(We) have already devoted a lot of resources to the energy industry,” Lin said. “We understand the importance of solar energy when there is a shortage of crude oil. It will be relatively difficult for Taiwan to get energy resources if we have to compete with big countries; therefore we have to develop commercialized alternative energy.” Multi-crystal ingot growth furnaces to begin the process of turning raw silicon into ingots will make up a large part of the production line for GET. President of GET, and son of W.S. Lin, Hur-Lon Lin said that GT Solar was one of the few places to offer the furnaces for sale. Sanyo in Japan makes similar machines, but they keep them for their own solar wafer production line. The market for solar wafers in Taiwan is limited to Motech, a company that produces approximately 27 MW of modules annually for export, but Hur-lon said the export market for the wafers to Germany, Japan and the United States should keep his business busy. Tatung Industries will take delivery of 13 silcon ingot growth furnaces manufactured by New Hampshire’s GT Solar. Once all of the production line are in place by the spring of 2005, GET will have the ability to produce enough wafers to build 25 MW of solar panels per year. Hur-Lon said he plans to double production after one year. “The market grows so rapid you just can’t wait,” he said. Though Tatung company already has a production plant for semiconductor silicon-wafers; they needed machinery that could process silicon for solar wafers, which is cleaner than the material used in semi-conductors. Multi-crystalline wafers that collect energy from the sun need to be as pure as possible to improve their conversion efficiency. The average efficiency of solar cells produced by the industry is approaching 15 percent. A stake in the solar industry is only a part of the energy industry commitment made by Tatung. The company makes generators for wind turbines, and Hur-Lon said they are looking for an appropriate site to build a wind farm. Fuel cells are also a part the company’s product lines. GT has manufactured multi-crystal ingot growth furnaces since 1998, and the production line contract is the second largest order the company has received since CEO Kedar Gupta and Executive Vice President John Talbott formed the company together. New Hampshire’s Gov. Craig Benson and Sean O’Kane, who is the N.H. commissioner of resources and economic development, attended the company’s reception to celebrate the contract. Benson spoke about the potential of the solar industry, and how GT is securing a future for the state in the industry. “This is a true win-win situation for the two companies to work together to help fill the gap between demand and supply of wafers in this industry,” Gupta said.
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