U.S. corporations will have another source for solar energy cells with the announcement of a new plant in Tennessee.
Wacker Chemie AG, a German manufacturer of the basic material used in solar-energy cells, plans to build a $1 billion plant in Bradley County, Tenn. The plant is expected to begin producing polycrystalline silicon sometime in 2012 and will provide an initial 500 to 600 jobs.
“We expect polysilicon demand from the solar and semiconductor industries to further increase in coming years,” Rudolf Staudigl, president and CEO of Wacker Chemie AG, told the Tennessean. “Purchasing the land is an essential prerequisite to quickly build up additional production capacities outside the euro zone in line with the projected market trends and growth in demand.”
The plant is the second polycrystalline silicon factory announced for Tennessee in recent months. One of Wacker’s key competitors, Hemlock Semiconductor Corp., said in December that it plans to build a $1.2 billion facility in the state. The plant is expected to open in 2012 and create 800 jobs, the Tennessean reported.
In 2006, Wacker signed a contract to supply solar energy materials to ErSol Solar Energy AG. The contract begins this year.