The ever-rising and widespread solar cells market appears to be expanding into the South Pacific Rim, after it was revealed that a multi-million dollar polycrystalline silicon production facility is to be built in Malaysia.

The Chiyoda Corporation, Japan’s leading engineering and construction firm, has been awarded a contract by Tokuyama Corporation for the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) of a polycrystalline silicon plant in Malaysia.

FEED work is scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2009, with an estimated $525m (Y50bn) thought to be invested in the facility.

Tokuyama Corp. suggested that the plant, to be located in an industrial park in the state of Sarawak, is slated to start production in 2012 at an annual pace of 3,000 tonnes. The company will also consider boosting the plant’s capacity while watching market conditions, company officials said.

The polycrystalline silicon will be used for semiconductor chips and solar cells. Currently, Tokuyama makes polycrystalline silicon at its plant in Shunan, in the Yamaguchi Prefecture of western Japan. The Malaysian plant will represent the firm’s second manufacturing base for the product, as well as the company’s expanding production in line with the growing semiconductor and solar cell market.

Tokuyama plans to increase the Shunan plant’s annual production capacity to 8,200 tons from 5,200 tons by next spring, as global demand for silicon continues to grow.

Project preparation
According to BusinessWire, Chiyoda will undertake the FEED work for the polycrystalline silicon plant to be built in Malaysia, having been involved in the project from the master plan preparation stage.

Chiyoda will execute the FEED work making use of the expertise of its local subsidiary Chiyoda Malaysia Sdn. Bdn.

Polycrystalline silicon, used to make semiconductors and solar cells, requires huge amounts of hydrogen and electricity, along with metal silicon.