The province of Ontario has granted nearly $8 million to support the expansion of 6N Silicon Inc., which specializes in turning low-grade silicon into the purified form of the material need to produce solar cells. The funding will aid in the development of a $50 million, 120,000-square-foot manufacturing plant for the company currently under way in Vaughan, Ontario, a city north of Toronto. According to 6N Silicon, the company will be able to use warehouse-type facilities in more urban locations for the process at the new plant. This is a considerable real estate advantage over other silicon purification processes, which require highly specialized industrial plants in isolated locations with large settling ponds spanning many acres. “The funding helps support the redevelopment of a former plastics factory on the site,” a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade told CPN. “It will also help grow the solar industry in Ontario, and employ former auto workers who have successfully transferred their skills from one sector to another.” The new plant will create 84 jobs. The government’s investment comes from the Next Generation of Jobs Fund, which supports Ontario-based companies looking to invest in various green technologies. The support for the expansion of 6N Silicon is, in fact, the first award made by the fund, which was unveiled this spring.According to some estimates, the solar industry has grown worldwide at over 45 percent per year on average for the past nine years, and recent price spikes in other sources of energy, particularly fossil fuels, have created renewed demand for solar cells. The supply of purified silicon, however, has not kept up with this demand, and is now a growth issue in the solar voltaic field. 6N Silicon is a relative newcomer to the industry, founded about two years ago, but it has attracted a lot of investor attention. This spring, it received $20 million in venture capital financing from a group led by Good Energies, a global investor in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry.