Chip Companies using Acquisitions to Enter Solar Market

Acquisition – not developing technology in-house – is the beststrategy for entering the solar market, according to a survey ofsemiconductor companies.

The survey, conducted by Greentech Media and the PV Group (part ofSEMI), sought to gauge the views of chip and solar companies on settingup manufacturing in the United States. Most of the 106 respondents saidthey already are investing in solar or plan to do so soon.

For those firms that don’t have the money or inclination to buysolar companies, the next-best approach is to either develop in-housemanufacturing technologies or purchase factory equipment designed tocut short the process to building commercial solar panels, the surveyfound.

Makers of crystalline silicon and amorphous silicon solar cellsalready can buy standard-issued equipment from vendors, while makers ofcadmium-telluride and copper-indium-gallium-selenide solar cells tendto design their own factory equipment.

More respondents said they would pick crystalline silicontechnologies if they were to enter the solar market. The choice"next-generation PV technologies" received the second-most vote,followed by amorphous silicon.

"It’s clear to go with what you know," said Scott Clavenna, CEO ofGreentech Media, in presenting the survey Tuesday. "Semi companies havetremendous experience in crystalline silicon."

When asked what technologies they would pick to ensure the UnitedStates is competitive in the global market, more respondents chose"next-generation PV technologies."

The pick corresponded with the respondents’ sentiment that whatmakes the United States an attractive place for manufacturing is theproximity to research and development resources. Skilled workforce,government incentives and proximity to end customers rounded out thetop reasons for producing solar equipment in the United States.

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