Solar company to invest $2.2B

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Hemlock Semiconductor Corp., which makes materials used in solar power technology, plans to spend more than $2.2 billion to build a new plant in Tennessee and expand operations in Michigan.

The new plant in Clarksville carries an initial investment of $1.2 billion, though Tennessee officials project the total cost could reach $2.5 billion.

“The exact scale of this investment will be determined by market conditions,” Rick Doornbos, Hemlock’s president and CEO, said in a news release.

The expansion at the company’s existing facility in Hemlock, Mich., is projected to cost up to $1 billion and create 300 new permanent jobs. It is the third major expansion over the past five years, bringing the total investment there to as much as $2.5 billion.

Hemlock Semiconductor is a joint venture between Dow Corning Corp. and two Japanese companies, Shin-Etsu Handotai Co. and Mitsubishi Materials Corp.

It produces polycrystalline silicon, also known as polysilicon, a raw material used to make solar cells and semiconductor devices.

The Clarksville plant is designed to initially make about 10,000 metric tons of polysilicon, but will be able expand to more than double that capacity. The site is expected to require about 1,000 construction workers for up to seven years, and create between 500 and 800 new jobs at the plant.

The company said its expansion in Hemlock, about 50 miles northeast of Lansing, will allow it to begin manufacturing monosilane, a gas is used to manufacture thin-film solar cells and liquid crystal displays.

Dow Corning is a joint venture owned by The Dow Chemical Co., which also is headquartered in Midland, Mich., and Corning, N.Y.-based Corning Inc.

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