TSMC takes stake in CIGSS start-up Stion: plans module production with IP license

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Hedging its bets in its move into the solar industry, leading semiconductor foundry TSMC will start producing CIGSS thin-film modules after taking a stake in Stion and a technology license. VentureTech Alliance, a TSMC affiliate, will invest US$50 million to take a 21% stake in Stion.

TSMC said it would provide a certain quantity of solar modules to Stion in return as well as partner on developing Stion’s process technology further. Late last year, TSMC invested US$193 million for a 20% stake in Motech Industries.

“Working with Stion, TSMC gains a robust thin-film technology with inherent low-cost structure,” noted Rick Tsai, TSMC’s president of new businesses.

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“With TSMC’s R&D capabilities and manufacturing expertise, we believe we can achieve long-term overall leadership in solar PV solutions, and we are happy to be able to contribute to a greener economy.”

“The collaboration enables Stion to scale its operations, leverages both companies’ strengths to achieve market leadership and to deliver on the promise of efficient, affordable solar energy,” commented Chet Farris, president/CEO of Stion.

TSMC did not say when it would start production of the CIGSS thin film modules or whether a new plant would be built to house production.

With many thin film start-ups strapped for cash to take their technology from the lab to the fab, the move could mean that Stion is changing its business plans and outsourcing production and possibly developing an IP licensing model as well.

TSMC is gaining access and faster entry into the CIGS thin film arena, which holds the greatest promise to compete effectively with CdTe thin film leader First Solar.

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