Polysilicon Industry Faces Shakeout

Bernreuter Research issues report on 150 companies in the sector

The Who’s Who of Solar Silicon  Production
The Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production covers the polysilicon and UMG silicon industry – Image: Bernreuter Research

Würzburg (Germany), April 8, 2010 – The polysilicon industry will face a major shakeout in 2011. This is one of the conclusions of the new market research report The Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production, which Bernreuter Research has issued today.

Polysilicon, the feedstock for the semiconductor and photovoltaic (PV) industries, was in short supply until 2009 before the market tipped to oversupply. With upside potential for demand in important PV markets in 2010, pressure on the silicon price will likely be limited this year. In 2011, however, a major shakeout in the polysilicon industry appears inevitable.

Without market correction, Chinese manufacturers could produce as much as 80,000 metric tons (MT) in 2012, about one third of a global volume of approximately 250,000 MT, according to the scenario of Bernreuter Research. „The Chinese polysilicon industry will undoubtedly become an important player in the global market,“ says Frank Haugwitz, photovoltaics consultant in Beijing and co-author of the report. However, about 20 smaller manufacturers, which had an annual production capacity of only 1,500 MT or even less at the end of 2009, are the first potential candidates for consolidation.

Fluidized bed reactor and upgraded metallurgical grade silicon play marginal role

Bernreuter Research has also examined nine alternative production methods to the standard Siemens process, which have been spurred by the silicon shortage in recent years. „None of them will challenge the Siemens process in the short term," says Johannes Bernreuter, head of Bernreuter Research and lead author of the report. „In particular, fluidized bed reactor technology has not delivered on its promise of lower manufacturing costs.“ Another alternative, upgraded metallurgical-grade (UMG) silicon, will only play a marginal role with a market share of less than one percent through 2012.

With 96 company profiles and 54 additional project reviews, The Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production provides comprehensive and detailed information on 150 manufacturers and aspirants in the polysilicon and UMG silicon industry. The 174-page report is supplemented by eight regional maps with company locations and a list of 56 equipment suppliers and engineering companies. Through April 30, 2010, the Who’s Who will be offered at an early bird discount. For more information and an order form, please go to The Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production.

Polysilicon supply and demand from 2006 through 2012
Silicon supply/demand imbalance leads to market correction – Chart: Bernreuter Research

About Bernreuter Research

Bernreuter Research was founded in 2008 by Johannes Bernreuter, one of the most reputable photovoltaic journalists in Germany, to publish technology-focused special reports on the solar industry. As early as 2001, he wrote his first analysis of the upcoming polysilicon bottleneck and alternative production processes. Co-author Frank Haugwitz has been working on photovoltaic and renewable energy projects in China since 2002; international news media, photovoltaic associations and companies often refer to him as an expert resource.