Roseville, California [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] SCHOTT Solar, a subsidiary of the worldwide SCHOTT group, and WACKER Chemie AG today signed an agreement to set up two joint ventures to produce and market silicon wafers for solar applications. Solar-wafer production capacity is set to expand in stages, reaching about one gigawatt/year by 2012.
This will make the joint venture one of the world’s five largest solar-wafer manufacturers.
Over the coming years, the two partners plan to invest a total of €370 million [US$506 million] in facilities in Jena, Thuringia and Alzenau, Bavaria, creating at least 700 new jobs at these German sites. The project is subject to approval by the German and European authorities.
The joint venture—SCHOTT WACKER Solar GmbH—is scheduled to start operations this year. It will produce multicrystalline silicon ingots and wafers, the starting material for solar cells.
“Given polysilicon’s actual global scarcity, a reliable supply of this raw material is essential to SCHOTT Solar’s ambitious growth targets in the photovoltaic sector,” said Udo Ungeheur, President and CEO of SCHOTT.
Dr. Peter-Alexander Wacker, Wacker Chemie AG’s president & CEO, emphasized the joint venture’s importance for his company. “WACKER is the world’s second-largest supplier of hyperpure polycrystalline silicon and a pioneer in the manufacture of solar-grade polysilicon… The recently announced expansions of our polysilicon production capacity to more than 22,000 metric tons per year ensure the joint venture’s starting material supply.”
WACKER will supply SCHOTT WACKER Solar GmbH with the hyperpure polycrystalline silicon it needs to produce wafers. The major part of the joint venture’s wafers will be used by SCHOTT Solar to make solar cells. Solar wafers, however, will also be sold to other solar-cell producers in order to capitalize on growth opportunities and related scale effects.
SCHOTT and WACKER each will hold a 50 percent equity stake in the production joint venture, while in the sales joint venture WACKER will hold 51 percent and SCHOTT 49 percent.