Applied Materials Acquires Solar Wafer Manufacturer

Applied Materials, Inc. has agreed to acquire HCT Shaping Systems SA of Switzerland, which makes precision wafering systems used in manufacturing crystalline silicon (c-Si) substrates for the solar industry.

The HCT acquisition, which cost about $475 million, will help Applied reduce the costs of photovoltaic (PV) cell manufacturing and make solar energy more competitive.

HCT supplies its precision wafers to c-Si solar manufacturers worldwide. To meet the challenges of cost in manufacturing solar cells and supply of the raw silicon material in c-Si manufacturing, HCT’s precision wafering systems enable customers to significantly reduce the thickness of wafers. Plus, Applied’s products for thin film solar cell manufacturing reduce silicon utilization by forming atomically thin layers of silicon directly from gases onto a glass substrate.

“HCT will significantly expand our opportunities in the c-Si PV technology sector,” said Mike Splinter, President & CEO of Applied Materials, “which currently comprises 90% of solar panel production. By combining HCT’s precision wafering systems with Applied’s strong manufacturing technology and global support infrastructure, we believe we can take solar wafer manufacturing to the next level of production efficiency.”

In related news, Green Energy Technology Inc., Ltd. (GET) of Taiwan has awarded Applied Materials, Inc. a contract to deliver a thin film solar module production line to its planned solar fab in TaoYuan, Taiwan.

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