Weekly News Roundup

Solar news packed this week’s roundup while specialty chemical companies further move towards green products and processing…

East and West in solar hook-up
Chinese solar cells and modules producer Suntech bought a minority stake in Russian polysilicon producer Nitol Solar. Nitol will use the financial infuse to set up its new trichlorosilane gas plant which will be completed in 2009. The gas is a key material used in the production of polysilicon.

Signet’s spicy investment
US silicon thin film solar modules manufacturer Signet Solar will build its second production facility in India with planned start-up in 2010. Signet’s first plant in Germany is scheduled to start in 3Q 2008.

The buzz in solar market
The global photovoltaic market last year generated $17.2bn, reports San Francisco-based consulting firm Solarbuzz. Polysilicon production rose 30% but Solarbuzz said global capacity remains constraint.

Paper major inks recycling biz
International Paper (IP) will buy Weyerhauser’s containerboard, packaging and business for $6bn. IP is actually more interested in the packaging part of the business so who knows, they might even ditch the recycling part…

By the grace of green
Specialty chemicals firm W.R. Grace has invested in green concrete materials company Ceratech. Grace said the investment is the company’s latest expansion step towards green materials for the construction industry.

In ICIS news (which requires subscription):

Eastman Chemical will introduce its new green cosmetic processing called enzymatic esterification next month. Wacker Chemie is looking to produce amino acid cysteine using glycerine in place of the current feedstock glucose. The company said it is also ready, technically, but not economically to produce acetic acid and polyvinyl acetate from bioethanol. Wal-Mart will begin screening chemicals in their products for any adversed environmental effects within two weeks.

Recent green market studies:
Mintel says 36% of Americans in their recent survey are now regularly shopping for green products compared to 12% 16 months ago. People who never purchase green products has been cut in half over the same period. The question remains, what is the average Americans’ definition of green products?

Datamonitor says sales of Fair Trade products across Europe, US, Australia & New Zealand, and Japan, will grow 16% between 2007 and 2012. Among the regions covered, the US has the largest fair-trade market worth L455.3m last year. In Europe, the UK remains the largest market valued at L395m followed by France and Germany. Fair trade certified products are products that meet agreed environmental, labor and developmental standards.

Whew! And I thought this would be a slow week….

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