The Linde Group has today announced the award of three multi-million dollar photovoltaic (PV) contracts in China – providing the company with access to over 50% of the local PV market.

The Linde Group’s local subsidiary, Linde LienHwa has been awarded contracts by Tianwei Baoding, Hangzhou Amplesun Solar and ENN Solar in China.

Such agreements are seen as bolstering the company’s position as the world’s largest supplier of bulk and specialty gases to the thin film PV industry.

As part of the new long-term contracts, Linde will be providing ongoing delivery of bulk and specialty gases essential to make thin film solar cells – including large volumes of silane and hydrogen gas, used to deposit silicon light absorbing layers on large-area sheets of glass used in solar panels.

China is fast emerging at the forefront of the global solar industry, with over 50% growth in solar cell manufacturing in 2008 – a huge jump compared to only 1% five years ago.

Through its three new contracts in the People’s Republic, Linde continues to play a crucial role in enabling China to secure its position as the world’s leading manufacturer of PV modules.

“China is a strong contender to become a model for the global solar energy market, with the recent rapid-paced growth in the photovoltaic market, and The Linde Group is excited to be a part of this dynamic evolution of the renewable energy landscape,” said Andy Cook, President of Linde LienHwa China.

“Linde’s successful relationships with Tianwei Baoding, Hangzhou Ample Solar and ENN Solar illustrate our commitment to deploy innovative approaches to production and utilisation of materials in solar manufacturing. Ultimately, Linde’s collaboration with such world leading companies is aimed at the universal industry goal of reducing cost per watt of solar cell production and bringing the cost of solar electricity to grid parity.”

ENN solar plant
The first phase of the ENN Solar plant in Langfang is set to start commercial production by Q2 of 2009, with a capacity of 60 MW and possible future expansion up to 0.5 GW.

Dr. Rick Wan, General Manager at ENN Solar, explained, “PV module manufacturing is a very important part of ENN’s strategy to contribute to the clean energy revolution in China and other countries of the world. Linde brings synergies with our history of innovation and experience in energy production to develop this renewable alternative energy source at competitive pricing.”

Tianwei Baoding
Baoding Tianwei Solarfilms meanwhile, is working with Linde to future-proof its gas installation and supply chain. Tianwei’s new thin film solar production facility in Baoding, worth around $900m, is due to go online in the first quarter of 2009.

Dr. Huang Yuelong, Deputy GM at Tianwei Solarfilms, commented on the market and the important involvement of gas supply from Linde, “There is a huge supply vacuum in the PV markets in the US, South Korea, Spain and Italy. Linde is enabling us to become a manufacturer of high-efficiency thin-film modules with lower production costs to overcome challenges of over-supply in a burgeoning market.”

Hangzhou Amplesun Solar
A privately invested high-tech company devoted to next generation green power, with an investment of around $320m, Hangzhou Amplesun Solar Technology Co. Ltd has been introducing production lines from Ulvac - one of the major equipment suppliers in solar industry.

Amplesun is installing two turnkey production lines in Hangzhou with a total capacity of 50 MW and plans to achieve a manufacturing capacity of 120 MW by the end of year 2010.

Speaking of its contract agreement with Linde, Jin Qing Guo, CEO of Amplesun Solar, said enthusiastically, “AmpleSun is very pleased to cooperate with Linde. And Linde has been facilitating our needs on specialty gases as well as on-site services, which will greatly speed up our capacity scale-up in the production of thin film solar modules.”