Dow Corning adds fuel to growing solar industry, invests $3 billion in polysilicon materials

December 17 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2012   Rating: 4

Polysilicon from Dow

The Solar industry is growing up and going global.  Now materials giant Dow Corning is investing $3 billion into basic materials for traditional photovoltaics and thin film solar.

The Chemistry side of Solar
The full potential of solar energy depends on our ability to make big advances in materials science. 

How quickly solar can grow depends on our ability to design nanoscale structures that maximize the conversion of photons into electricity, photons into heat, or photons into hydrogen.  And how many utilities and consumers take the leap!

So when we see 'Big Chemistry' companies get involved in the solar industry materials market, that should be a signal of growth (and growth pains) ahead!

Dow goes Green by Being Black
Dow Corning Corporation has announced several billion dollars of investment to provide critical materials to the fast-growing solar technology industry for both glass based solar and carbon based thin film.

Dow Corning and its Hemlock Semiconductor joint venture will begin manufacturing high purity monosilane, a key specialty gas used to manufacture thin-film solar cells and liquid crystal displays (LCDs).  Combined with the new $1.2 billion build up at a Clarksville, Tennesee facility and the $1 billion expanded monosilane plant in Hemlock, Michigan operations may add up to 34,000 metric tons of polysilicon capacity for the fast-growing solar industry. Construction of both the Michigan expansion and the new Tennessee site will begin immediately.

What to watch: Oversupply of Polysilicon

There is no doubt that solar holds tremendous potential as a primary source of energy.   But there are a number of industry analysts who expect a coming shakeout in the market as the rush to market of new entrants pushes more than consumers demand. 

Similar big bets went sour on investments in fiber optics in the late 1990s just before the Dotcom Bust.  But solar could be different if the industry can capture the wave of demand for low carbon fuel sources. 

China has made significant investments in solar energy and it is unclear how Dow's expansion might change the supply-demand dynamics of this nascent industry.  But Dow Corning's stamp of approval on solar is big news for the energy sector.

 

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Record efficiencies for low cost solar

 

Dow Corning Press Release
Hemlock Press Release
Image Credit Dow Polysilicon

Comment Thread (1 Response)

  1. $3B for photovoltaics is good news.

    Posted by: Adam Cutsinger   December 21, 2008
    Vote for this comment - Recommend

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