OCI planning to expand its polysilicon capacity by 35,000 tons

Polysilicon plant of OCI in Bintulu, a coastal city in the state of Sarawak, Malaysia
The plans of OCI for a major capacity expansion at its polysilicon factory in Malaysia have become more concrete – Image: OCI

South Korean chemicals group OCI is getting closer to a decision to increase the capacity of its solar-grade polysilicon plant in Malaysia by 30,000 to 40,000 metric tons (MT). In 2024 the plant would then have a total capacity of 65,000 MT to 75,000 MT. In May 2021 The Korea Economic Daily had reported about considerations that would even have entailed an expansion scale of up to 60,000 MT.

At the presentation of its fourth-quarter results on February 8, OCI said that it is currently negotiating new long-term polysilicon supply contracts with several potential customers and hopes to announce an expansion of its plant in Malaysia by the end of the first quarter.

An additional capacity of 30,000 MT to 40,000 MT could then come on stream in early 2024, using equipment from OCI’s shuttered P3 plant in Gunsan, South Korea. P3 had a nominal capacity of 35,000 MT. OCI is currently debottlenecking the plant in Malaysia by 5,000 MT to reach a capacity of 35,000 MT by the fourth quarter.

Although massive overcapacity is looming on the solar-grade polysilicon market in 2024, OCI will likely benefit from two trends: rising demand for polysilicon untainted by forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region in China and for high-purity polysilicon suited to make high-efficiency, n-type solar cells.

The P1 plant in Gunsan, which the company switched from solar to electronic grade for semiconductors in 2020, now has a maximum capacity of 3,000 MT, compared to the former solar-grade capacity of 6,500 MT. In view of the strong demand for electronic-grade polysilicon, OCI is considering the conversion of the old P2 plant, which had a solar-grade capacity of 10,000 MT, to electronic grade as well.

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