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$51 million solar cells plant planned for Quapaw

Tulsa_Ground will be broken next week for a $51 million plant in Quapaw that will make elements for high-efficiency solar cells.

The Umicore plant, which is to be completed in the spring of 2010, will employ 165 people earning an average salary of $51,000.

Brussels, Belgium-based Umicore selected Quapaw over sites in Phoenix and Albuquerque, thanks to the availability of inexpensive power, water and land as well as good transportation access.

The plant in far northeastern Oklahoma will produce germanium substrates, a building block for solar cells. These wafers are now mainly used in solar cells for satellites and other space applications.

When finished, the Oklahoma facility will match Umicore's Olen, Belgium, production site, doubling the firm's wafer production capacity to 900,000.

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