OCI firms up 42,500-ton polysilicon capacity expansion by 2027

Polysilicon plant of OCI in Bintulu, a coastal city in the state of Sarawak, Malaysia
OCI’s expansion by 30,000 MT of solar-grade and 10,000 MT of electronic-grade polysilicon in Malaysia will take until 2027 – Image: OCI

South Korean chemicals group OCI will implement its plan to increase production capacities for both solar-grade and electronic-grade polysilicon later than originally envisaged.

At the presentation of its fourth-quarter results on February 7, the company said it would expand the capacity of its solar-grade polysilicon plant in Malaysia by 30,000 metric tons (MT) to 65,000 MT in several phases “over the next five years” – in other words: by 2027.

OCI also announced that it would build a new 10,000 MT production line for electronic-grade polysilicon in Malaysia; the capacity of its legacy electronic-grade plant in Gunsan, South Korea would be enlarged by 2,500 MT to approx. 7,500 MT.

Expansion pace retarded by limited extra hydropower capacity

OCI will use idle production equipment from its shuttered facilities in Gunsan for the expansion of its solar-grade plant in Malaysia. Obviously, the current bottleneck is limited additional electricity supply from the local hydropower plant: “We will start relocating idle facilities from Gunsan Plant this year, as relocation takes a long time. Once we have facilities ready for re-connection and whenever we have extra hydro capacity, we will start expansion,” OCI’s corporate communications department told Bernreuter Research.

The Korean economic newspaper Etoday quoted OCI’s Vice Chairman Woo Hyun Lee as saying: “Regarding the Malaysian polysilicon plant, we plan to expand by 10,000 tons starting next year. Demand for non-Chinese polysilicon is expected to increase due to the announcement of the US Inflation Reduction Act and the introduction of the European supply chain due diligence law.”

However, the first 10,000 MT of additional solar-grade capacity will likely not generate sales volumes before the second half of 2025, “given we have enough electricity to run the facilities,” OCI explained. This is more than one year later than Lee anticipated a year ago.

The new 10,000 MT production line for electronic-grade polysilicon in Malaysia and the 2,500 MT upgrade in Gunsan are both planned to start commercial operation in 2026.

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