Bernreuter Research: Wacker was the largest polysilicon manufacturer in 2016.

German chemical company Wacker was the largest polysilicon producer in 2016, according to market research company Bernreuter Research. Wacker produced over 70,000 MT last year, thus slightly surpassing the Chinese manufacturer Jiangsu Zhongneng Polysilicon, whose production output reached 69,345 MT.

Wacker’s rise was primarily due to the commissioning of the its new polysilicon manufacturing facility in Tennessee, United States. This has increased the company’s annual production capacity by 20,000 MT to 80,000 MT. According to Bernreuter Research, all of Wacker’s polysilicon production is based on the Siemens process. Only a semi-commercial plant at the company’s facility in  Burghausen, southern Germany, is using the fluidized bed-reactor (FBR) technology.

Last year’s largest producer, Jiangsu Zhongneng Polysilicon, which is a unit of Chinese solar manufacturer GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd., has tried to expand the capacity of its Siemens-based production, which currently stands at 76,000 MT, with the construction of a new 25,000 MT FBR factory. The project, however, is experienced technical problems, Bernreuter Research reports.

U.S. manufacturer Hemlock Semiconductor, which was the largest producer from 1994 to 2011, obtained fourth position after OCI. Hemlock, however, is suffering under the duties that China introduced on polysilicon imports from the USA in 2013, which “have diminished the accessible market for the company considerably.”

Wacker was the largest polysilicon manufacturer in 2012 and the second largest in 2013. “Wacker will remain the number one for at least a few years, until GCL-Poly manages to establish new Siemens reactor capacity in Xinjiang,” said Johannes Bernreuter, head of Bernreuter Research.

By Carl Johannes Muth