(Updates with company announcement, closing share price)
TOKYO, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Japan’s Sharp Corp (6753.T), fighting to remain the top maker of solar cells, will develop tools to make solar cells with Tokyo Electron Ltd (8035.T) amid growing demand for clean energy.
Sharp, which is building a 100 billion yen ($925 million) factory for thin-film solar cells, and rivals such as Germany’s Q-Cells QCEG.DE are vying to boost the production capacity of solar cells as silicon supplies tighten.
Tokyo Electron said on Monday the two firms will establish a joint venture to develop production equipment for thin-film solar cells, which use less silicon than conventional solar cells. Tokyo Electron will produce and sell the equipment starting in 2009.
The venture will be capitalised at 50 million yen, with 51 percent held by Tokyo Electron, the world’s No. 2 chip equipment maker after Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O). Sharp will take the remaining 49 percent.
Shares of Sharp fell 1.4 percent to 2,090 yen, while Tokyo Electron edged up 0.7 percent to 6,820 yen. The benchmark Nikkei average .N225 rose 0.1 percent. (Reporting by Mayumi Negishi and Nathan Layne; Editing by Eric Burroughs)