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SCHOTT Solar, a 100% subsidiary of the SCHOTT group, and WACKER Chemie AG plan to set up two joint ventures to produce and market silicon wafers for solar applications. Over the next several years, the two partners plan to invest a total of €370 million (~ $509 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, called 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. Solar wafer production capacity is set to expand in stages, reaching about one gigawatt/year by 2012. This will reportedly make the joint venture one of the world’s five largest solar wafer manufacturers.
“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 Ungeheuer, president and chief executive officer of SCHOTT. “Combined with our current capacity expansions for solar cells and modules in Alzenau and Valasské Mezirící in the Czech Republic, the joint venture will play a decisive role in strengthening SCHOTT Solar’s position as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of solar energy components.”
According to Peter-Alexander Wacker, Ph.D., WACKER Chemie AG’s president and chief executive officer, “WACKER is the world’s second-largest supplier of hyper-pure polycrystalline silicon and a pioneer in the manufacture of solar-grade polysilicon. Our forward integration, with a strong partner, into solar wafer production is vital to our strategy of creating corporate value in this growth sector. 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 hyper-pure 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 to capitalize on growth opportunities and related scale effects. To this end, SCHOTT and WACKER plan to establish a separate joint venture, WACKER SCHOTT Solar GmbH.
SCHOTT and WACKER each will hold a 50% equity stake in the production joint venture (SCHOTT WACKER Solar GmbH), while in the sales joint venture (WACKER SCHOTT Solar GmbH), WACKER will hold 51% and SCHOTT 49%. The production joint venture includes SCHOTT’s existing facilities in Alzenau for producing solar wafers and those in Jena for producing multicrystalline silicon ingots. SCHOTT WACKER Solar plans to expand the existing production and to set up new facilities for blocking and wafering.
For more information, visit www.us.schott.com or www.wacker.com.