Tokyo Electron Announces Strategic Cooperation with Oerlikon Solar

Published on February 26, 2009 at 10:19 PM

Tokyo Electron (TEL), a leading global supplier of innovative semiconductor production equipment, has announced a strategic cooperation with Oerlikon Solar, the world's leading supplier of thin film silicon photovoltaic (PV) production equipment. "This strategic cooperation between TEL and Oerlikon Solar creates a new solar powerhouse which will unlock the huge potential of the Asian solar market. There could be no better partnership in the center of the Asian solar market," emphasizes Dr. Uwe Krüger, CEO of Oerlikon.

Oerlikon Solar thin-film manufacturing technology (Photo: Business Wire)

"By forming a cooperation with Oerlikon Solar, TEL will be able to satisfy its customers with outstanding equipment and related support, while drawing upon the technology and supporting capabilities it has acquired in the semiconductor and FPD production equipment markets," commented Terry Higashi, CEO and Chairman, Tokyo Electron Limited. Together, TEL and Oerlikon will significantly expand the adoption of thin film silicon PV technology in parts of Asia, Oceania and Japan, areas which are already leading in solar adoption and export.

The partnership will be based on Oerlikon Solar's proven, industry-leading PV technology, and on TEL's extensive sales and customer support network, semiconductor experience and highly respected market leadership. TEL will become the exclusive representative for Oerlikon Solar's thin film silicon PV equipment and end-to-end production solutions in parts of Asia, Oceania and Japan. They will also provide manpower and services in the area of installation, ramp-up and customer service.

Oerlikon Solar provides the industry's most complete production equipment, technology and services for thin film silicon PV modules, offering critical cost and performance advantages for emerging solar markets. TEL has more than 45 years of experience in semiconductors and flat panel display (FPD) production equipment. Their established network of sales and support resources and Oerlikon Solar's proven technology is a winning combination for the thin film PV market. "Our strategic partnership with TEL is designed to leverage complementary strengths to create the quality and scale of thin film silicon PV needed to satisfy the growing demand for clean and economically viable energy sources. This partnership will benefit our customers enormously in Asian emerging growth markets with predictable end-to-end manufacturing facilities for thin film solar panels and local sales and customer support through TEL's global network," said Jeannine Sargent, CEO Oerlikon Solar.

Enormous Growth Market

The global market for thin film PV is expected to increase at an average rate of more than 60% per year through 2012, which is more than twice the rate of growth expected for traditional crystal silicon technology. Japan, the third largest global solar market1, plans to cut greenhouse gas levels 60-80 percent below 2008 levels by 2050.

Sargent: "According to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), PV systems could be generating enough energy to satisfy the electricity needs of almost 14 percent of the world's population by 2030."

Mass Production Proven

Since its first customers started mass production in 2007, over 700,000 modules have been produced on Oerlikon Solar equipment. In addition a rapid growing number of customers are in the process of ramping up production.

Having the clear market lead in thin film silicon PV, Oerlikon Solar brought its first Micromorph® customers (Inventux in Germany and Auria Solar in Taiwan) to mass production in 2008. Micromorph® is one more important element for reducing the production costs of solar energy and to reach grid parity. This proprietary Oerlikon Solar technology boosts cell efficiency by up to 50 percent while dramatically reducing cost per watt.

"Just one more milestone in Oerlikon Solar's mission to make Solar Power economically viable."

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