The plant will this year have a capacity to churn out enough silicon for 48 megawatts worth of solar panels. Next year, Solaicx will expand the plant to be capable of producing silicon for 142 megawatts a year. The expansion revolves around increasing the number of silicon ingot growers, the machines that make the tubes of pure silicon that ultimately gets formed into wafers, from 12 in 2007 to 36.
Although China has been sucking up much of the world's factory capacity, precision manufacturing still takes place and continues to expand in the U.S., Japan and Europe. Corning in the U.S. remains major supplier of glass for TVs and silicon for other high tech companies.
The solar industry has been suffering through a silicon shortage since April 2004.