Longi Silicon and Zhonghuan Semiconductor announce new expansions with over 10GW of new capacity planned

There have been a number of movements in the mono-crystalline market over the last year. Most recent of which was the signing of a 5GW mono-crystalline silicon rods investment agreement between Chinese company Longi Silicon and the Lijang Government on 26 July. The project will take place in Yunnan Province and is designed to further promote Longi Silicon’s investment cooperation with the provincial government.

The RMB 4 billion (US$600 million) project includes the purchase and installation of single crystal furnaces, auxiliary mechanical process equipment and manufacturing facilities to meet the requirements for an annual production capacity of 5GW mono-crystalline silicon rods. The construction is estimated to be completed in 2 years. According to the agreement, Longi will set up a subsidiary in Huaping Industrial Park to facilitate the construction of the project.

The announcement indicates that Longi had already signed Letters of Intent for an investment partnership with Yunan Provincial Government, Lijiang, Baoshan and Chuxiong local governments, in relation to mono crystalline production projects prior to this agreement.

In the above mentioned announcement, Longi states that project negotiations with Baoshan and Chuxiong governments are currently going smoothly, and that it will disclose the relevant information based on the agreements signing process in due course.

As far as pv magazine knows Longi’s mono wafer capacity will have reached 7.5GW by the end of 2016.

At present, Longi Silicon is the largest mono silicon wafer manufacturer in China, followed by Zhonghuan Semiconductor. The latter also recently announced that the construction of its “Phase IV industrial engineering project for mono-crystalline silicon material for renewable energy solar cell and semiconductor integrated circuits,” had begun in the Huhehaote Jinqiao Economic and Technological Development Zone in Inner Mongolia.

The planned total project investment is RMB5.988 billion (US$900 million), with an area of 520 Mu. Zhonghuan’s current capacity for mono products is close to 3GW, and is expected to reach monthly production of 70 million wafers after September. Once the project is completed, an additional 6GW of mono-crystalline silicon material and 6GW of mono-crystalline silicon chips will be added to its total capacity, and the company’s annual output of mono-crystalline silicon wafers may reach 8GW.

Among the top ten silicon wafer manufacturers in China, Longi and Zhonghuan are the only two companies specialized in mono-crystalline production. The main difference between the two is that Longi has its own module manufacturer, Lerris Solar, whereas 70% of Zhonghuan’s mono wafers are exported to overseas markets. Additionally, on 25 July, Longi and ET Solar announced the establishment of their joint venture to explore overseas market.

At a time when the industry is increasingly concerned about the balance of supply and demand in the second half of the year, the silicon expansions planned by these two manufacturers is good news for the reduction of the price of mono-crystalline silicon, and for further pushing down the overall cost of electricity from solar. It will be interesting to observe whether the mono market will further develop under the PV Leaders Plan that was launched by the National Energy Agency, targeting the promotion of technological innovation.

Edited by Sun Qiyi.