2009 Archives



Deciphering High Tech’s Hype

Deciphering High Tech’s Hype

A moneymaking matrix of innovation and investment, high technology encompasses a dizzying series of subsectors. Here, we aim to demystify this enigmatic industry while introducing some emerging markets and distinguishing the well-established hubs.





Tennessee Corporate Moves

Tennessee Corporate Moves

German Chemical Giant to Build $1-Billion Polysilicon Plant in Tennessee Wacker Chemie AG, the Munich-based chemical company, has announced plans to build a $1-billion polysilicon plant in Bradley County, Tennessee. The new chemical facility, expected to create more than 500 new jobs in the region, is the third mega-project landed by Tennessee in the past eight months. Earlier this year, Hemlock Semiconductor announced that it would invest $2.5 billion in a new semiconductor plant near Clarksville, TN, and last summer Volkswagon chose a site just north of Chattanooga for its return to car manufacturing in the U.S. The new Wacker plant will manufacture hyperpure polycrystalline silicon, a primary component used in the manufacture of solar panels and semiconductors. The development announcement was jointly made by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber, Dr. Rudolph Staudigl, president and CEO of Wacker Chemie AG, and Dr. Ingomar Kovar, president of Wacker Chemical Corporation, Adrian, MI. “This announcement further enhances Tennessee’s growing reputation as an innovation center in the development and manufacture of clean energy technologies,” said Bredesen. “I appreciate Wacker Chemie’s investment in Tennessee and its recognition of the productivity of Tennessee workers, and I’m very pleased the company believes this is the best place to enhance its position in this growing economic sector.” “We expect polysilicon demand from the solar and semiconductor industries to further increase in the coming years,” said Dr. Staudigl. “Purchasing this site is an essential prerequisite to quickly build up additional production capacities outside the euro zone in line with projected market trends and growth in demand.” The facility will be located in southeastern Tennessee on a 550-acre greenfield site near the Hiwassee Industrial Park in the Charleston community of Bradley County. “Under Governor Bredesen’s leadership, we’ve developed a strategy for the creation of ‘green collar’ jobs in Tennessee,” said Kisber. “That strategy has resulted in more than $2.5 billion dollars in capital investment and over a thousand new jobs being announced in the past year and we truly believe Tennessee is well-positioned for the growth of a sustainable economy in the U.S.” In addition to the state’s strong business climate, Wacker officials cited Tennessee’s well-developed infrastructure and the cooperative partnership of state agencies, local government, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the local chamber of commerce. As part of its investment, Wacker will qualify for statutory incentives on the state and local level, including the FastTrack Infrastructure Development Program, the FastTrack Job Training Assistance Program and the Super Jobs Tax Credit. The strong […]


Florida Corporate Moves

Florida Corporate Moves

World’s Largest Cellulosic Ethanol Facility to be Built in Highlands County Highlands County, FL, soon will be home to the world’s largest facility to make biofuels from inedible plants, including grasses, according to an announcement from BP PLC and Verenium Corp. The British energy giant is investing $112.5 million in Verenium and received a 50% stake in licensing the company’s technology as part of the project. The new facility, which will cost an estimated $300 million, will be 25 times larger than Verenium’s pilot biofuels project with BP in Mermentau, LA, which was commissioned early this year and currently is the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol operation. Verenium, based in Cambridge, MA, said the Florida facility will make 36 millions of gallons of fuel a year and is aiming for a cost of $2 a gallon, roughly on par with gasoline. The plant will use Verenium’s specialty enzymes to turn renewable grasses grown adjacent to the plant site into cellulosic ethanol, the company said. The project has received a $7-million grant awarded under the Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commission’s $25-million “Farm to Fuel” initiative. The rapid move from a demonstration-scale refinery to a full-scale biofuels facility reflects the growing interest in cellulosic ethanol, which comes from breaking down plant material and turning it into ethanol that can be used to displace crude-oil-based fuels in cars and trucks. The joint venture between BP and Verenium also is planning to build a second full-scale facility on the Gulf Coast. Other oil giants, including Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell are believed to be aggressively pursuing development of next-generation biofuels. The push for biofuels also is expected to get a big boost from the Economic Recovery stimulus bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. The bill allocates more than $12 billion to fund grants and loans for alternative energy projects. There has been increased interest in recent months on cellulosic ethanol, made from inedible grasses and leftovers from agricultural production, after the growing use of corn-based ethanol was blamed last year for using up crops and driving food costs higher. Verenium’s Louisiana plant uses crushed sugar-cane stalks, and the Florida facility will use grasses. The U.S. government mandates requiring big increases in the amounts of renewable fuels to be used in the nation’s gasoline tanks—at least 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2022, representing about 7% of total transportation-fuel consumption, up from a negligible amount today, according to industry analysts. Abengoa SA, a Spanish company, is building cellulosic ethanol […]