Air Liquide is to build a large dedicated on-site production unit to provide gases used in thin film technologies for the production of solar cells.

Leading solar photovoltaic companies in Germany are increasingly focusing on thin film technologies for the production of solar cells. Due to their lower usage of substrate materials, these innovative approaches are helping reduce production costs.

Since 2005, Air Liquide, the global leader in gases for the solar photovoltaic industry, has been delivering the necessary production gases, as well as related full services, to all customers located in Thalheim near Leipzig, Germany, the largest ‘Solar Valley’ in Europe.

Air Liquide will now build a large dedicated on-site production unit – due to start up in 2010 to serve all customers in this high technology park.

The particularly energy efficient unit, built to accommodate increasing demand from all solar cell manufacturers located in Thalheim, will ultimately produce more than 38m tpy of nitrogen and represents an investment of around €10m.

It will notably ensure the nitrogen supply for Calyxo GmbH, a subsidiary of Q-Cells, one of the leaders in photovoltaics worldwide, as well as for a subsidiary of SunfilmAG (former Sontor GmbH), and for Q-Cells AG.

Guy Salzgeber, Vice-President of European Industrial Business and member of the Air Liquide Executive Committee commented, “By combining the needs of the major companies and investing in a single large unit, we are pleased of being able to offer a very energy effective and flexible solution for the nitrogen consumption of customers in Thalheim.”

“These new long term agreements with PV market leaders and the new unit to come confirm the success of our global solar offer as well as illustrate our commitment to this fast changing industry and specifically to this major site for the development of the photovoltaic industry in Germany.”

“The photovoltaic business is at the crossroads of Energy and the Environment, two growth drivers for the Air Liquide Group.”