SunEdison in talks over $2bn Chinese poly factory

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Having signed a $220 million JV to develop another 1 GW of solar projects in China yesterday, U.S. company SunEdison is in talks with an unnamed Chinese partner to invest up to $2 billion in a polysilicon factory in the People’s Republic, according to Bloomberg.

An overnight report on the newswire stated the planned factory would have a capacity of 20-30,000 metric tonnes per year, potentially almost trebling the Missouri company’s 17,000 poly production capacity.

Bloomberg says the planned plant would use the same fluidized bed reactor (FBR) technology introduced by the U.S. manufacturer in Ulsan, in neighbouring Korea this month, and would be able to produce poly around $2/kg cheaper than its lowest-priced competitors, at less than $6/kg.

The Bloomberg report is based on an interview given by SunEdison president Ahmad Chatila in Beijing on Wednesday, in which he revealed the company is also considering a polysilicon factory in Saudi Arabia.

Having introduced the FBR polysilicon manufacturing technology, which uses 90% less energy than the traditional Siemens method, SunEdison is diversifying into downstream operations with its Ulsan plant set up to supply polysilicon for Chinese wafer maker the Huantai Group, with which the poly maker in June committed to develop 1.7 GW of projects in China.

The downstream plans saw SunEdison yesterday sign the JV with China’s JIC Capital fund to develop 1 GW of projects in China over the next three years, with the first projects due to start next year.