( dpa ) - Applied Materials, the Silicon Valley chip equipment maker, announced Tuesday a 1.9 billion dollar deal to supply 1.9 billion worth of machinery for making thin-film solar panels.
The company said the deal was probably the largest ever deal in the history of the solar industry.
The equipment will be used in factories that will manufacture enough solar panels to produce 1 gigawatt of electricity a year - which would account for 8 per cent of the total output of the world's solar industry last year.
"It is the largest sales agreement in Applied history and quite possibly in the history of the solar industry," said Patricia Zepeda-Vera, a company spokeswoman.
Applied Materials announced the deal in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission but would not identify the purchaser except to say that it was a "a privately held corporation based outside the United States."
In its more recent earnings report Applied said that it received orders of 260 million dollars for its solar-panel-production equipment, up from 31 million dollars a year earlier.
Most of those orders came from companies outside the United States, it said - 24 percent from Taiwan, 19 percent from Korea, 13 percent from Japan, 12 percent from Europe and 10 percent from China and Southeast Asia. North American companies placed 22 percent of the orders.
The deal sent Applied's shares sharply higher and was seen as vindication of the company's strategy to diversify beyond chip-manufacturing equipment, and develop businesses for making solar panels and screens for flat-panel TVs and computer displays.