China: Longi, Lerri Solar unveil monosilicon expansion plans

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China-based Longi Silicon is set to significantly expand its monocrystalline silicon capacity, believing that in five years, there will be no market for multicrystalline silicon due to cost performance. This is despite the fact monocrystalline silicon currently holds less than 20% market share in China.

"In five years, we will see there is no market space for multicrystalline because of the cost performance," Baoshen Zhong, chairman of Longi, told pv magazine. "Considering the cost from silicon wafer, cell, and module, the gap between these two types is very small. The cost of average installation per watt is flat now," he continued.

"Moreover the cost of monocrystalline silicon will be even lower than that of multicrystalline in quite near future. While thinking about the ability of electricity generation per watt, stability to temperature change, the yearly degradation rate, people will find investment of monocrystalline silicon is with more cost effectiveness and valuable."

At the end of 2014, Longi had a monocrystalline silicon wafer production of around 3 GW. This is set to grow to 10 GW under the company’s long-term plans. Meanwhile, the company’s diamond wire cutting capacity is set to grow from around 2 GW to an estimated 5 GW by the end of this year.

Although the investment details for the ramp up were not disclosed, an investment program released by Longi last July indicated that for 800 MW monocrystalline capacity, an investment of RMB 554 million (around US$87 million) would be required, while RMB 640 million was needed for capacity to grow to 1.2 GW, and RMB 854 million would be needed for a 2 GW diamond wire cutting line.

In 2014, around 70% of Longi’s sales were from overseas customers. It hopes that by the end of 2015, 50% will come from its domestic market.

Lerri Solar’s expansion plans

Lerri Solar, a medium-sized solar PV module manufacturer and subsidiary of Longi, has completely switched its production from multi- to mono-crystalline silicon modules. By the end of the year, the company plans to expand manufacturing capacity to 2 GW, up from 250 MW at the beginning of 2015 on the back of strong domestic demand.

To fulfill its module demands in the short term, Lerri has signed strategic manufacturing cooperation agreements with Yingli, Huawei, TBEA and Suntech in recent months, while it ramps up capacity at its manufacturing facility.

"We really believe the market shift is coming. More and more monocrystalline silicon products will be used in PV market. Actually Lerri solar got several big orders in China recently and all together exceeded 700 MW. This is an obvious proof," stated Lerri chairman, Baoshen Zhong.

Edited by Becky Beetz