The Linde Group is set to further expand its gas supply infrastructure for GCL-Poly Energy Holdings, China's largest producer of highly purified polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon).

Building on its existing contract with GCL, the deal will entail an additional investment to the tune of €15m. Polysilicon is used primarily in the solar industry.

Under the terms of the new agreement, recently signed by both partners, Linde will construct additional production and supply facilities for high-purity hydrogen (H2) at the Xuzhou Industrial Park. Earlier this year, Linde already put two steam reformers into operation. Linde supplies GCL with H2 from these reformers by pipeline.

This latest project brings Linde's investment commitment to GCL's gas supply infrastructure in Xuzhou to around €30m.

“This expansion deal is the next installment in a successful relationship established between both companies to secure a flow of high-purity hydrogen for the production of polysilicon,” explained Dr Aldo Belloni, Member of the Executive Board of Linde AG.

“The new on-site contract underscores not only our leading position on the Chinese gases market, but also our customers' confidence in our in-depth expertise in renewable energies.”

The two new facilities are set to go on-stream by mid 2011, doubling existing hydrogen capacity to meet GCL-Poly's projected rise in demand for gases as it increases capacity at Xuzhou.

GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Limited is China's largest and one of the world's leading suppliers of polysilicon. The company is also a pioneer for green energy in China. GCL Solar, a member of the GCL Group, will produce around 21,000 tonnes of polysilicon per year by the end of 2010. GCL Solar has also started constructing solar-cell production facilities, which should have a capacity of one gigawatt by the end of 2010.