Demonstrating its commitment to drive solar power innovations, Dow Corning Corp. today opened a Solar Solutions Application Center in Freeland, Michigan, to collaborate with customers to develop, evaluate and pilot material solutions used to manufacture solar panels.
The 27,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility represents an investment of more than $3 million and includes a laboratory, pilot equipment and testing facilities. A team of engineers and scientists will staff the facility, which is designed to be expanded as needed to meet the needs of the growing solar and photovoltaic industry.
"Dow Corning's goal is to help the solar industry move towards being economically competitive with conventional energy sources, and become a sustainable energy option globally," said Eric Peeters, global executive director, Dow Corning Solar Business. "This first application center represents our intention to be an active, eager partner with researchers, producers and governments as we help develop affordable and efficient solar energy for the global energy market."
One of the only companies in the world able to provide silicon-based solutions throughout the entire photovoltaic value chain, Dow Corning is investing to expand its portfolio of total solution packages for solar cell manufacturing, module assembly and installation. Solution packages include high-performance silicone products such as encapsulants, adhesives, coatings, potting agents and sealants, as well as next-generation solar grade silicon.
"We're bringing the same kind of in-depth understanding of chemistry and technology that we've been applying to many other industries to the solar industry value chain," said Gaetan Borgers, global industry director, Dow Corning Solar Business. "We're addressing key issues such as availability of raw materials and cost, durability and performance of solar modules. Today's energy needs require multiple solutions, and the diverse capabilities and extraordinary potential of solar energy will play a significant role in solving these challenges."
The Solar Solutions Application Center is the latest in a series of solar-related investments by Dow Corning.
In September 2006, the company introduced Dow Corning(R) PV 1101 Solar Grade Silicon -- the industry's first commercially available feedstock derived from metallurgical silicon using large-scale manufacturing processes -- which can be blended with polysilicon to help ease silicon shortages and provide solar device manufacturers with additional supply, technical and business model options.
In May 2007, the company announced a significant expansion at its joint venture Hemlock Semiconductor (HSC) -- a $1 billion investment in manufacturing capabilities for this critical material to offer broad availability of solar energy.