Chip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. said on June 17 it was investing US$50 million in an American solar-panel maker in its latest venture into the renewable energy.
TSMC, the world's top contract microchip maker by revenue, said it was taking a 21% stake in California-based Stion via its venture capital unit VentureTech Alliance.
Stion will license and transfer its thin-film technology to TSMC, which will provide solar modules to Stion using the technology.
TSMC announced last year an investment of about $192 million for a 20% stake in Motech Industries Inc., Taiwan's largest producer of solar cells.
As growth in the semiconductor business slows, TSMC and other companies in the sector hope to find new ways of making money, and solar energy is one area expected to see rapid expansion in coming years.
Taiwan has estimated its solar energy industry will be worth up to 200 billion Taiwan dollars (US$6.25 billion) by 2020.
The island's parliament last year passed a major renewable energy bill aimed at adding between 6,500 and 10,000 megawatts of installed energy from renewable sources over the next 20 years.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010