Saturday, September 19, 2009

SEH making solar silicon in Vancouver

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire visited SEH America's Vancouver campus yesterday to talk about the expansion of the company's silicon wafer production facilities. The Japanese company's $55 million purchase in June of Hewlett-Packard's campus doubles its land in Washington and gives it five times more free space for expansion.

It seems likely that a large portion of the expansion will be in solar silicon production. The company, which holds the largest global share of the semiconductor market, has already begun producing its silicon wafers for use in solar panel manufacturing, said executive vice president Tatsuo Ito at his visit with the governor. The conversion was "easy", he said.

If SEH does dramatically expand its solar silicon production in coming years, it would help bring Washington back into the running as a major solar manufacturing state. As I reported earlier this week in The Columbian, Washington ranked No. 4 among the top 10 most favorable states for silicon-based solar panel manufacturing, according to a report by GTM Research, yet it's the only state among them that doesn't have any major constructed or planned facilities.

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