Intel is set up to establish a new company to develop solar energy technology and produce solar cells.

The chip maker will transfer all technology related to converting sunlight to energy into the new company, known as SpectraWatt , and lead its first round of investment. The chip maker will join several other companies, including a subsidiary of The Goldman Sachs Group, Solon and the PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund (CETF) to invest US$50 million (£25 million) in the new solar venture.

The investment will take place by the end of June.

SpectraWatt will break ground on a manufacturing and technology development centre in Oregon later this year, and its first product shipments are expected by the middle of next year. The new company will focus on advanced solar cell technologies as well as improving manufacturing technology to lower the cost of photovoltaic energy.

Currently, the cost of solar energy is twice that of retail electricity, Intel said. Reducing the cost of solar energy should ensure continued industry growth of 30 percent to 40 percent annually, according to the chip maker.

The new CEO of SpectraWatt will be Andrew Wilson, former general manager of Intel's New Business Initiatives group. The statement quotes Wilson as saying the goal of SpectraWatt is to move toward long-term national energy independence.