Aurinka is aiming for UMG silicon, not wafer production in Spain

Construction site of Ferrosolar’s 1,400-ton plant for upgraded metallurgical-grade (UMG) silicon in Puertollano, Ciudad Real province, Castile-La Mancha autonomous region, Spain
Construction of Ferrosolar’s 1,400-ton plant for upgraded metallurgical-grade silicon in Puertollano has been on hold – Image: Lanza

Under the headline “Wafer production comes back to Spain,” pv magazine recently reported that “Spanish firm Aurinka Photovoltaic Group this week announced it intends to start wafer production in the nation this year.”

This account is incorrect. Asked by Bernreuter Research, Aurinka has clarified that “the intention is to start upgraded metallurgical-grade (UMG) silicon, not wafers.”

In 2016 Aurinka formed Ferrosolar, a joint venture (JV) with Ferroglobe, a leading producer of silicon metal and silicon-based alloys, whose subsidiary Silicio Ferrosolar (not to be confused with the JV) has developed a method to produce UMG silicon. Construction of a 1,400-ton plant in Puertollano should have been finished by late 2018; in February 2019, however, Ferroglobe announced the project was suspended to reduce its capital expenditures.

Although still searching for additional partners, “Ferroglobe assumes further investments to finish the current project,” Aurinka says. It remains to be seen if this is more than wishful thinking while the market share of monocrystalline solar panels, which require high-purity polysilicon, is approaching 90%.

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