Wacker to reduce the workforce of its U.S. polysilicon plant by 3%

China’s market shares in global production capacity along the PV value chain (solar-grade polysilicon, solar ingot, solar wafer, solar cell, solar module)
As China dominates the global ingot capacity, the market for solar-grade polysilicon outside China is getting small – Chart: REC Silicon

Expecting a decrease in demand, Wacker is planning to cut the 650-strong workforce of its U.S. polysilicon plant by 20 employees or around 3%.

“We are currently considering a reduction of approximately 20 production positions at our site in Charleston in order to align with forecasted lowered production volume,” company spokesperson Lisa Mantooth told local media.

Mantooth explained: “China’s tariffs on U.S.-produced polysilicon, as well as investments into its own domestic polysilicon production facilities, have effectively blocked Wacker Charleston from exporting solar-grade polysilicon to the world’s largest solar polysilicon market.”

As China has already imposed prohibitive duties on polysilicon imports from the U.S. since mid-2013, those are only one part of the problem. Wacker’s decision is more a response to the shrinking market for solar-grade polysilicon outside China. According to Bloomberg, only 5% of the global solar ingot capacity, which consumes polysilicon, is not located in China anymore (see chart).

Thus, the leeway for the U.S. polysilicon plants of Wacker and Hemlock Semiconductor is getting ever smaller.

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