Electrabel, TotalFinaElf, Soltech and IMEC, Europe’s largest independent research centre for microelectronics, have formed Photovoltech – a new company that will produce photovoltaic cells and modules at a new plant at Tienen in Belgium.
A new production process developed by IMEC, and licensed to Photovoltech, will enable photovoltaic cells to be produced from polycrystalline silicon, at lower cost and with higher efficiency than by conventional technology.
Specialist companies, such as Soltech, will then incorporate the modules into application-specific photovoltaic systems.
Construction of the fabrication plant should take around 18 months, and production of photovoltaic cells is scheduled to begin around mid-2003.
The Tienen plant will have an annual capacity of 2.5 to 3.8 million units (6 to 9 MW), representing more than 10% of the European production of solar cells, and will employ more than 50 people.
The investment involved comes to around EUR 10 million.