Plant's Attempt To Produce Product For Solar Panels A Success

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — A partially completed Hoku Materials plant in eastern Idaho has successfully produced polysilicon, a product used for making solar panels. Scott Paul, president and CEO of Hoku Corp., said Thursday construction will resume immediately to increase production capacity at the $390 million plant in Pocatello.

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — A partially completed Hoku Materials plant in eastern Idaho has successfully produced polysilicon, a product used for making solar panels.

Scott Paul, president and CEO of Hoku Corp., said Thursday construction will resume immediately to increase production capacity at the $390 million plant in Pocatello.

The company did not say how much polysilicon was produced with the successful pilot production. The plant is expected to eventually produce 4,000 metric tons of polysilicon a year.

"It's a huge milestone," Paul told the Idaho State Journal. "This dates back four years since we announced we were going to start this plant. A lot of people thought we would never get this far."

Hoku struggled to raise funds to complete the facility. In March, it finally received the second installment of a $50 million loan from majority owner Tianwei New Energy Holdings Co. of China after a two-week delay pending approval from the Chinese government.

Paul said the plant will hire as many as 200 workers within the next year.

He said two, six-person crews worked 12-hour, back-to-back shifts during the trial production.

"These guys are that seed, that first group that has learned how to do it and done it successfully," Paul said. "I think the opportunity for this group is really unlimited."

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