July 31, 2006 – Hemlock Semiconductor Corp., the biggest supplier of polycrystalline silicon, has launched a worldwide search for a new manufacturing site, which it hopes to have online within five years to expand its supply to both the solar and electronics markets. Factors in selecting the new site will include: cost of energy, tax considerations, incentive programs, labor and land costs, and the surrounding infrastructure, according to the company.
“We’re looking for a site that enables us to expand and continue to serve customers around the world in this rapidly growing and progressive industry,” stated Richard Doornbos, president and CEO of Hemlock Semiconductor, adding that opportunities in the company’s home state of Michigan will receive equal consideration as other potential global sites.
Marie Eckstein, VP and GM of advanced technologies at Dow Corning (a majority owner of Hemlock, with partners Shin-Etsu Handotai Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Materials Corp.), pointed to an estimated 30%-40% growth rate over the next 10 years for the solar energy industry, which in the nearer term is facing significant shortages in available silicon.
Last fall Hemlock broke ground on an expansion to its existing facility in Hemlock, MI, to increase the company’s annual capacity by 45% to 14,500 metric tons by 2008, and to 19,000 metric tons by 2009. Capacity at the desired second facility will provide additional flexibility for future growth, according to Doornbos.