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Semiconductor Giant Pushes Millions Into Solar, LED Arena

TSMC enters the green tech fray with external deals, internal construction plans.

1 min read
Semiconductor Giant Pushes Millions Into Solar, LED Arena

One of the biggest semiconductor manufacturers in the world, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, is pushing its chips into the middle in another field: solar power and LED manufacturing.

Hsinchu-based TSMC announced that along with plans for new semiconductor foundries, they will spend more than $100 million on a LED manufacturing line and $218 million on a thin film photovoltaic construction facility. This comes a year after the company announced their intentions to move into these green tech fields, and follows on the heels of a number of business moves aimed at centering them in the push for solar and LED fields.

Late in 2009 TSMC acquired a 20 percent stake in Motech Industries, which is among the largest solar cell manufacturers in the world. More recently, the company reached a supply agreement with the solar thin-film manufacturer Stion, and in March they broke ground on an LED manufacturing facility.

Adding TSMC to the solar mix will only strengthen the tiny country's lofty position in the industry. Various reports from Taiwanesesources indicate that the country ranks third or fourth in the world in solar cell manufacturing, and adding TSMC's $3 billion in net income to that muscle can't hurt. And with nearby China recently overtaking the United States as the world's biggest energy user, the biggest market for those solar cells and LEDs isn't going anywhere.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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