Chip manufacturing company Applied Materials is continuing to buy its way into the solar markets. This morning, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said it plans to acquire Italy’s Baccini, a maker of metallization and testing equipment for photovoltaic solar cell production, for about $330 million.
Baccini isn’t exactly a startup; the firm has been developing its solar cell processing line for 40 years, and will be able to help Applied with its goal to reduce the cost of solar cell manufacturing, which will eventually bring down the overall per-watt cost of solar power.
The Baccini purchase will also bring Applied’s (AMAT) solar acquisition investments to above the $1 billion mark, points out EETimes. In August, Applied completed a $483 million acquisition of Swiss solar wafer equipment company HCT Shaping Systems.
While solar manufacturing machines are only a small part of Applied’s overall business, analysts see the company’s solar foray as a promising area of growth. Mark Fitzgerald, analyst at Banc of America Securities, predicted that company’s solar revenue could reach $1.2 billion in 2009. Applied targets both the crystalline silicon (c-Si) photovoltaic and the thin-film solar (little or no silicon) markets.
In September 2006, Applied President and CEO Mike Splinter announced the company’s move into the PV equipment market, saying the company plans:
“…to change the cost equation for solar power through adaptation of our existing technology and new innovation in order to help make solar a more meaningful contributor to the global energy supply.”