Production begins at Wacker’s new polysilicon facilities

11. October 2011 | Industry & Suppliers, Products | By:  Becky Stuart

Wacker Chemie AG has begun production at its new polysilicon production facilities in Nünchritz, Germany three months earlier than scheduled.

Man standing in Wacker Chemie's polysioicon plant in Nünchritz

Nameplate capacity is expected ot be reached next year. Image: Wacker Chemie AG

Having invested €900 million, the company says over 500 jobs have been created, and its annual capacity boosted by 15,000 metric tons (MT).

Nameplate capacity of the hyperpure polycrystalline silicon is expected to be reached in the second quarter of 2012.

Wacker says its entire polysilicon output is "almost completely" under contract until the end of 2015. Overall, Wacker is looking to produce over 33,000 MT in 2011.

In a statement released, the company explained, "The new production complex utilizes highly integrated material flows. This means that manufacturing by-products are reprocessed and then reused as starting materials in the value chain. Doing so lowers costs while conserving resources, and, as a consequence, sharpens Wacker’s competitive edge in polysilicon production."

Polysilicon nosedive

At a CEO Forum held at this year’s PV Taiwan in Tapei, Motech CEO, P.H. Chang, stated believes the fourth quarter of this year will see polysilicon prices nosedive. It will be a "troubling time" for polysilicon makers, he said, because of oversupply and high inventories, which will eventually force production cutbacks.

Robin Chien, vice president of TSEC Corporation added that the first quarter of 2012 will be particularly challenging for polysilicon, with prices falling to between USD$20 to $USD35 per kilogram (kg).

This is also a scenario that Chang sees. He said that worldwide polysilicon supply is likely to exceed sluggish demand in the fourth quarter and that prices could be anywhere below $25 to $40/kg. Meanwhile, spot prices may decline to under $35/kg by year end.

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