GT Solar bags $81.7-million solar polysilicon manufacturing order from two Asian buyers

GT Solar International Inc., a maker of silicon production equipment for solar cells, has received orders worth a total of $81.7 million from two new unnamed customers in Asia.

Two customers ordered equipment to produce polysilicon, the essential raw material for manufacturing solar panels that capture sunlight and convert it to electricity, the New Hampshire-based company said in a statement.

The recent orders include GT Solar’s hydrochlorination equipment used for the production of trichlorosilane and other polysilicon production equipment. Trichlorosilane is a chemical compound containing silicon, hydrogen, and chlorine that decomposes to ultrapure silicon at high temperatures.

Producing TCS through the process can reduce capital investment by 10 to 15 percent and can lower annual operating costs by about 15 percent, according to GT Solar.

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The orders will be included in GT Solar’s backlog for its first quarter of financial year 12, which ended last July 2, 2011.

“As polysilicon prices continue to fall, producers must operate their plants at the highest levels of productivity and efficiency to remain profitable. Our polysilicon production equipment and technology enables customers to produce high purity silicon at one of the lowest costs in the industry,” said Dave Keck, vice president and general manager of GT Solar’s polysilicon technology business unit.

The price of solar-grade polysilicon dropped 28 percent to $53.4 per kilogram month-on-month in June, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report published on June 17 saying that the price of multicrystalline silicon wafers also slid by 23 percent in June to a record low of $2.39 a piece.

Multicrystalline silicon cell prices were down 15 percent to $0.92 per watt.

Last month, GT Solar also received an order for its advanced sapphire crystallization furnaces for producing light-emitting diodes totaling $460.4 million from another unnamed buyer. The order is GT’s largest single order to date.

The company acquired Massachusets-based L.E.D. maker Crystal Systems Inc. in July 2010. GT Solar bought Crystal for $24 million in cash, 5.4 million shares of GT Solar common stock and $21-million cash in earn-out provision.

GT Solar rose 93 cents, or 5.75 percent, to $17.11 per share when Nasdaq trading closed June 5. Midday into trading, the companies share prices rose as much as 6.2 percent to $17.19, the highest since its initial public offering in July 2008.

To date, GT Solar has a market cap of $2.15 billion.

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