REC Silicon blames layoffs on trade war – that’s only half the truth

REC Silicon’s fluidized bed reactor polysilicon plant in Moses Lake, Washington with vehicle at night
The layoff of 100 employees at REC Silicon’s polysilicon plant in Moses Lake, Washington is due to a mix of causes – Image: REC Silicon

U.S.-based polysilicon manufacturer REC Silicon has announced that it will reduce the utilization rate of its polysilicon plant at Moses Lake, Washington from 50% to 25% and lay off approx. 100 employees.

REC Silicon spends a lot of words on blaming the layoffs on the trade dispute between China and the United States. Only a half-sentence mentions “reduced demand for solar grade polysilicon,” which is actually closer to the truth.

As REC Silicon’s access to mainland China is impeded by prohibitive import duties, the company already reduced the utilization rate at Moses Lake to 50% previously and has shifted its customer base mainly to Taiwan. The new layoffs are far more a response to the current slump of global demand in the wake of China’s cap on new domestic PV installations. GET, a Taiwanese wafer manufacturer, has for instance reduced its utilization rate to below 50%.

REC Silicon just blames the trade dispute in order to increase pressure on the Trump administration to find a solution with China – with little prospect of success in view of new U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports.

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