TSMC eyeing PV inroads?

May 13, 2009 – Top global foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is looking to broaden its profile (and boost margins) by exploring work in the renewable energy sector, notably solar panels and photovoltaics, according to local reports.

As the maturing chip industry watches growth settle to single-digits, “it is very logical and natural for a company of our size to look for opportunities for extra growth,” TSMC CEO Rick Tsai told the Financial Times. The company recently hired TSMC China exec Chao Ying-cheng to oversee a new business eyeing green-energy opportunities. Tsai stressed that this is “a very long-term” interest, “not just try to get in and make a quick profit.”

TSMC is feeling the brunt of the downturn in chips like everyone else; it barely broke even in 1Q but sales slid the most in its 22-year history, noted the Taiwan Economic News.

Tsai did not specify in which sector TSMC would likely settle — but a report by DigiTimes suggests the company is sending out feelers about obtaining photovoltaics manufacturing equipment. Unidentified sources pointed out to the paper that TSMC would present “high entry barriers in order to achieve market segmentation” while leveraging its know-how of semiconductor manufacturing, which shares many aspects with PV production. The foundry likely would invest in individual types of equipment, rather than turnkey production lines, the report added.


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