The Hemlock Semiconductor Group, which includes two Dow Corning joint ventures, has commenced operation of a new 8,500 metric tons polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon) production facility at its Hemlock, Mich. location.
This new capacity, which has been brought online several months ahead of schedule, represents the completion of the first phase of the $1 billion expansion the Michigan site announced in May of 2007. The second phase of this capacity expansion will begin to come online in 2010 and, together with the first phase, will increase the total annual capacity to approximately 36,000 metric tons.
"The new capacity from our latest expansion is a critical milestone to ensure our customers' confidence that they will have the silicon feedstock needed for the semiconductor and fast-growing solar energy industries," said Hemlock Semiconductor Group President and CEO Rick Doornbos. "It takes a tremendous team effort to be able to deliver an expansion of this magnitude ahead of schedule, and we're very proud of our team for making it happen."
In the last five years, Hemlock Semiconductor has announced investments totaling more than $4 billion. These investments will expand Hemlock Semiconductor's capacity by nearly 10 times while creating more than 1,500 new jobs. These jobs are in addition to the 1,000-1,800 construction contractors on site every day.
"Despite the economic recession, the long-term outlook for the solar market remains strong," said Doornbos. "Our demonstrated capabilities to deliver recent capacity expansions on or ahead of schedule and our more than 40 years of technical and manufacturing experience puts Hemlock Semiconductor in a strong position to help our customers succeed in an industry that continues to show promise and growth."
"This latest achievement is the result of outstanding planning and execution by our team with a strong focus on safety from start to finish," said Jim Cross, site manager of Hemlock Semiconductor's Michigan site.
Later this year, Hemlock Semiconductor Group will also begin construction of a new polysilicon manufacturing facility in Clarksville, Tennessee, which is scheduled to be operational in 2012. Excavation has already begun at the site.
In solar applications, polycrystalline silicon is the cornerstone material used to produce solar cells that harvest renewable energy from light rays. In addition to serving the solar energy market, polysilicon is also used in the production of semiconductor devices used in computers, cell phones and other electronic applications.
Dow Corning Corporation provides performance-enhancing solutions to serve the diverse needs of more than 25,000 customers worldwide. A global leader in silicon-based technology and innovation, offering more than 7,000 products and services, Dow Corning is equally owned by The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) and Corning, Incorporated (NYSE: GLW). More than half of Dow Corning's annual sales are outside the United States.
The Hemlock Semiconductor Group is comprised of two joint ventures: Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation and Hemlock Semiconductor, L.L.C. The companies are joint ventures of Dow Corning Corporation, Shin-Etsu Handotai and Mitsubishi Materials Corporation. Hemlock Semiconductor is a leading provider of polycrystalline silicon and other silicon-based products used in the manufacturing of semiconductor devices and solar cells and modules. Hemlock Semiconductor began its Michigan operations in 1961 and broke ground at its Tennessee location in 2009.