Solar energy is moving into a new phase in Taiwan, heralded by the start-up of the country’s first large-scale thin film solar cell manufacturing plant, for which BOC Lien Hwa (BOCLH) has been selected to supply NexPower in Taichung with a wide range of high purity gases used in the manufacturing process.

As Tawian’s leading electronic gases supplier, BOCLH is a joint venture between The Linde Group and Taiwan’s Lien Hwa Corporation and is perfectly suited to cater for this demand. The company offers gases, gas supply systems and services for numerous applications in semiconductor, solar cell, and TFT-LCD production.

The NexPower plant is expected to begin operations by the second quarter of 2008 and will use a new thin-film technology that enables the production of large-scale solar panels, with an area more than five times of those currently produced. This larger area helps produce more power, making the power generation costs more competitive with that of conventional grid-supplied electricity.

Under a long-term agreement, BOCLH will provide NexPower with turnkey installation of the special gases supply systems and ongoing delivery of the gases essential to making thin film solar cells. These gases include large volumes of silane and hydrogen gas, used to deposit silicon light absorber layers on large sheets of glass, and cleaning gases used to remove silicon deposits from the process chambers.

“BOCLH is excited to be a part of this new and developing technology which we believe will have an expanding role in Taiwan’s power supply infrastructure in the coming years,” said Alex Tong, President of BOCLH.

“Our partnership with NexPower reinforces Linde’s mission to develop and apply advanced gas technologies that help manufacturers move towards lower cost energy,” he added.

Although solar power is currently a small percentage of today’s energy mix, analysts predict it will grow at an annual rate of between 20-25%.

NexPower was formed in 2005 by the UMC Group, one of the world’s leading semiconductor foundry companies, to meet the growing demand for clean energy sources.