‘Green’ light shines on SEMICON West

By Hank Hogan

It wasn’t springtime but this year’s SEMICON West was nonetheless green. The signs included a push toward recycling, conservation, and solar power. The latter was especially evident, since Intersolar North America ran concurrently with SEMICON West for the first time this year. Intersolar took over the third floor of one hall while SEMICON West sprawled across the rest of San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

Of course, all of these green trends were driven by a desire for that other form of green. During a panel discussion at the beginning of the show, Paula Mints, principal analyst for the photovoltaic service market research program at Navigant Consulting (Palo Alto, CA), pointed out that the solar industry has been expanding rapidly for a long time. “The photovoltaic industry has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 34 percent for the past 30 years,” she announced.

That trend should continue for years to come. The photovoltaic market is in the tens of billions of dollars but only accounts for a fraction of a percent of the electricity generated worldwide.

The potential of solar is attracting attention. Applied Materials formed a business unit to service the industry, but it’s not the only company to do so. Air Liquide, for example, has ALUX, a range of turnkey offerings that includes supply and purification of materials, as well as abatement of waste. It’s all intended to help photovoltaic manufacturers scale up production, and the suite of services includes those designed to boost module efficiency and yield.

“We also can do failure analysis to pinpoint component problems,” said Hugh Gotts, director of research and development of Air Liquide


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