The Linde Group and its subsidiary, Linde LienHwa (LLH), have jointly announced several long-term gas supply contracts with leading Chinese solar manufacturers.

The multi-million US dollar contracts will see Linde supplying to the full solar manufacturing value chain in China, from polysilicon to major solar module manufacturers, including GS Solar, Parity Solar, CNPV Solar Power SA, General Solar Power and Argus Power.

Linde’s Greater China Regional Business Unit will construct and manage two steam methane reformers (SMRs) in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, for the supply of high purity hydrogen (H2) products for the rapid capacity expansion of polysilicon manufacturing. Linde’s SMR process is capable of producing large volumes of high purity H2 products, bringing energy-efficient benefits to polysilicon manufacturers.

Linde’s electronics-focused subsidiary LLH’s new long-term gas supply contracts, going on-stream this year in China, will provide delivery of bulk and specialty gases essential for solar cells manufacturing. LLH’s total gases supply to these new and expanding customers will significantly cover more than 1GW of capacity, with a further 300MW of possible expansions.

“Linde’s long-term supply contracts with industry leaders in China demonstrate customer confidence in Linde’s innovative gas technologies to enable optimal cost-performance ratio right across the solar value chain from polysilicon to solar module manufacturing,” says Steven Fang, Head of Linde Greater China.

“Linde’s contract wins create new opportunities of partnership for us in the solar industry, and to be part of China’s aspiration to develop its industries through sustainable technologies.”

LLH is at the forefront of greener solutions for the solar market. Andy Cook, President of LLH China, adds, “As China joins the race to become a dominant player in the solar power market, module makers are demanding innovative technologies to address the cost, efficiency and sustainable manufacturing of photovoltaic cells.$quot;

In line with its strong focus on innovation and sustainability Linde LienHwa will also promote its onsite fluorine generators, as PV module manufacturers actively seek greener alternatives to nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).

China is effecting a rapid change in the business order of the global photovoltaic (PV) industry, carving out a significant global market share for itself, with government incentives stimulating local production and solar module manufacturers looking for increasingly cost effective and innovative ways to drive down cell costs.

Paula Mints, Director, Energy Practice and principal analyst – PV Services Programme, Navigant Consulting, said, “2009 was a better year for sales than anyone in the PV industry expected, with shipment growth of 32% to the first point of sale in the market. The most significant volume of PV production is coming from China and Taiwan – with significantly lower price points than the rest of the world. In 2009, shipments from China/Taiwan grew by 73% over 2008.”

In 2009, China unveiled its Golden Sun programme to subsidise PV projects totaling 642MW at a total estimated cost of RMB 20bn (USD 2.9bn). In November last year, ahead of the Copenhagen climate summit, China announced that it would cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of the GDP by 40 to 45% by 2020 in comparison to 2005 levels.

Linde has a leading position in gases and chemical supply to both crystalline and thin-film silicon PV module manufacturers, in key markets including Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Taiwan and India. To date, Linde has partnered customers on projects with a production capacity of more than 6GWp.