Tennessee: The Polysilicon State

Wacker Chemie said today that it plans to build a $1 billion polysilicon production facility in Bradley County, Tenn., to supply the solar and semiconductor industries, taking advantage of what it said are cheap electricity rates, as well as other state and local incentives. This follows in the footsteps of competitor Hemlock Semiconductor, which said in December that it’s also planning to build a polysilicon plant in the state.

wacker_chemie_solar_waferBoth companies are building new plants despite a reported polysilicon glut. The global credit crunch has slowed down demand for solar panels, driving down polysilicon prices just as new supplies of the main solar panel ingredient hit the market. But Germany’s Wacker Chemie, with a market capitalization of $3.3 billion, and Hemlock, Mich.-based Hemlock Semiconductor, backed by Dow Corning, are probably big enough to ride out the storm. And the recently signed stimulus bill could spark a boom in the U.S. solar industry.
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