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TSMC & UMC Compete In Thin-Film Solar Cell Technology Market

TSMC has aggressively moved into the solar industry this year by becoming Motech's single largest shareholder with a 20% stake. The firm has also acquired a 21 % stake in U.S. solar photovoltaic company Stion to obtain its thin-film solar cell technology.

 Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), one of the world's largest contract chip makers, is expected to begin work on its first thin film solar cell plant in September according to Focus Taiwan News Channel.

Rick Tsai, president of TSMC's new businesses division, said the new plant will focus on developing modules for Copper Indium Gallium di-Selenide (CIGS) thin-film solar cells, after it entered the silicon solar cell sector by purchasing a 20 % stake in Motech Industries, Taiwan's biggest solar cell maker, in January.

Addressing the opening ceremony of a green job fair, Tsai also said machines and equipment will be installed in TSMC's LED research and development center and plant in Hsinchu beginning next month.

Construction on the plant began last March and mass production is expected in 2011.

TSMC has aggressively moved into the solar industry this year, not only becoming Motech's single largest shareholder, but also acquiring a 21 % stake in U.S. solar photovoltaic company Stion in July to obtain thin-film solar cell technology.

Industry analysts believe that TSMC's main rival, United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC), is ahead of TSMC in the thin-film solar cell market, as UMC established its own thin-film solar cell company NexPower Technology Corp. in 2005. NexPower has already entered mass production.

"TSMC believes that its past experience in developing semiconductor businesses will help speed its growth in the green energy industry, " said Tsai, who previously served as president and CEO of TSMC from 2005 to 2009.

Tsai said TSMC is expected to recruit at least 500 people to help develop its green energy businesses in the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, Sino-American Silicon Products, Taiwan's top maker of wafers for solar cells, also said at the job fair that it will increase its workforce from 2,400 to 6,000, in five years.

Sino-American Chairman Lu Ming-kuang said the company's consolidated revenues grew 80 % year-on-year in the first six months of this year and predicted full-year revenues would surpass NT$21 billion, growing to NT$60 billion to NT$65 billion in 2015.
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