Polysilicon Industry Facing Major Shakeout

The global solar polysilicon sector will face a major shakeout in 2011, according to a recent research report from Bernreuter Research.

Polysilicon, the feedstock for the semiconductor and photovoltaic industries, was in short supply until 2009 before the market tipped to oversupply. Withupside potential  for demand in important PV markets in 2010, pressureon silicon prices will likely be limited this year, the company says. In 2011, however, consolidation in the polysilicon industry appearsinevitable. Without market correction, Chinese manufacturerscould produce as much as 80,000 metric tons (MT) in 2012, about onethird of a global volume of approximately 250,000 MT, according to thereport.

"The Chinese polysilicon industry will undoubtedly become an important player in the global market," states Frank Haugwitz, aphotovoltaics consultant in Beijing and co-author of the report."However, about 20 smaller manufacturers, which had an annual production capacity of only 1,500 MT or less at the end of 2009, are the firstpotential candidates for consolidation."

Bernreuter Research also examined nine alternative production methods to the standard Siemensprocess. The development of these techniques was spurred by the siliconshortage in recent years. "None of them will challenge the Siemensprocess in the short term," concludes Johannes Bernreuter, head of Bernreuter Research and lead author of the report.

"Inparticular, fluidized bed reactor technology has not delivered on itspromise of lower manufacturing costs," Bernreuter says. Anotheralternative, upgraded metallurgical-grade silicon, will only play amarginal role, with a market share of less than 1% through 2012, thereport predicts.



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