Wolfspeed to build world’s largest silicon carbide materials facility in North Carolina

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By Louis Allen - 

Silicon carbide technology company Wolfspeed (NYSE: WOLF), will build a new multi-billion dollar materials manufacturing facility in North Carolina, in an effort to keep up with the surging electric vehicle (EV) and renewable energy demand.

The factory will be set up in Chatham County, North Carolina and is expected to become the largest silicon carbide materials facility in the world, producing 200mm silicon carbide wafers.

Wolfspeed president and chief executive officer Gregg Lowe said it is excited by the opportunity to help address the accelerating demand for next generation semiconductors.

“Demand for our products continues to grow at a rapid pace, and the industry continues to be supply constrained,” he said.

“Expanding our materials production will further our market leadership and allow us to better serve the growing needs of our customers.”

The company’s latest investment will generate a more than 10-fold increase from its current production capacity on its Durham campus – supporting Wolfspeed’s long-term growth strategy.

Phase one construction is set for completion in 2024 and will cost an estimated US$1.3 billion, with options to add additional capacity if needed between 2024 and the end of the decade.

State-of-the-art facility

State and local funding along with a Job Development Investment Grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce will underpin the development of Wolfspeed’s first construction phase.

The funding support makes up an estimated US$1 billion incentive package from the state, county and local governments.

Wolfspeed will also apply for federal funding through the CHIPS and Science Act as well, in an effort to ramp up construction efforts.

Over the course of the next eight years, the company has announced it will generate around 1,800 jobs.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Wolfspeed’s investment recognises “North Carolina as the epicentre of clean energy”.

“This is another milestone in our drive toward a clean energy economy as it will boost electric vehicle manufacturing and offshore wind while fighting climate change and putting money in the pockets of every day North Carolinians with great paying jobs,” he said.

Extension of NC A&T partnership

In order to build up a pool of suitably qualified workers, Mr Lowe said the company was “proud” to further its partnership with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T).

“We are particularly excited and proud to not only expand Wolfspeed’s footprint in our home state of North Carolina, but also further our relationship with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to nurture our best-in-class talent pool,” he said.

In 2020, Wolfspeed invested $4 million over five years to the university, which was single largest donation in the university’s history, to set up Wolfspeed Endowed Scholars Program.

This investment was to help enable leading research and innovation programs.

NC A&T chancellor Harold Martin said the partnership will help both parties “change the world together.”

“North Carolina A&T is proud to partner with Wolfspeed to provide new opportunities to pursue the next generation of careers in the green economy, drive innovation and explore new possibilities,” he said.

“Throughout our rich history as a doctoral, land-grant university and the largest historically black university in the country, we have believed in the power of our students to change the world,” he added.

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