Wacker opens Nünchritz polysilicon production facilities

30. April 2012 | Applications & Installations, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By:  Becky Stuart

Wacker Chemi AG has officially opened its "hyperpure" polysilicon facilities in Nünchritz, Germany. The €900 million investment is said to have created over 500 new jobs.

Wacker polysilicon chips

Wacker is targeting a polysilicon capacity around 70,000 MT by 2014.

The Munich-based company opened the new 15,000 MT facility last Friday, April 27, in the presence of Saxony prime minister, Stanislaw Tillich and other guests. While initial production began last year, the plant is expected to reach nameplate capacity "within the next few weeks".

Overall, the company says it will ramp up its total polysilicon capacity to around 52,000 MT by the end of the year. By 2014, it adds, capacity will have reached approximately 70,000 MT, once the new polysilicon site currently under construction in Charleston, the U.S., is complete.

Rudolf Staudigl, president and CEO commented, "This expansion of capacity is a key prerequisite to enable us – now and in the years to come – to meet our customers’ demand for top-quality polysilicon for use in highly efficient solar cells. Wacker’s entire polysilicon output, including that from Nünchritz, is almost completely under contract until the end of 2015."

Demand

In a statement released, Wacker says that demand for polysilicon is "markedly" up in the first few months of 2012. "Volumes in Q1 2012 were almost 50 percent higher than in the same period last year. Currently, all of the company’s production facilities are running at full capacity," it said.

Just two weeks ago, IHS iSuppli predicted that polysilicon prices would fall to US$22 per kilogram by the end of the year, due to the continuing production surplus. In an industry note, Jefferies has said it believes oversupply will continue to dominate 2012, due to capacity expansions coming online from the likes of Hemlock, OCI and GCL. It adds that prices will fall to between $15 and $18 per kilogram.


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