REC Silicon to restart poly production at Moses Lake in 2023


REC Silicon has confirmed it will restart solar polysilicon production at Moses Lake in the US state of Washington in 2023, following Hanwha's decision to acquire a 16.67% stake in the Norwegian manufacturer.

“The restart of production [at Moses Lake] is a direct result of Hanwha’s commitment to REC Silicon,” said REC, which has all of its wholly owned poly factories on US soil.

In January, the Hanwha Solutions division of Hanwha Group spent $160 million on a 16.7% stake in REC. It said the move was based on expected demand for solar polysilicon in the US market.

The polysilicon maker, which only manufactures products for semiconductor customers on US soil, said in its first-quarter results announcement that Moses Lake would restart production in the final quarter of 2023. Full ramp-up is expected in 2024, said REC.

The Moses Lake site, which has an annual production capacity of 20,000 metric tons of solar-grade poly, has been idle since the second quarter of 2019, when it was caught in the trade war between the United States and China. Chinese subsidies on US-made polysilicon effectively locked REC Silicon out of the world's biggest solar market, leaving the company with only its semiconductor polysilicon business and the supply of silane gas.

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REC produces semiconductor-grade poly at a 2,000-metric-ton site in Butte, Montana. In its recent financial update, REC Silicon said it was talking to Hanwha Group, which operates a 1.7 GW solar module factory in the United States, about the supply of solar polysilicon and silane gas.

In October 2020, REC Silicon said it had signed a cooperation agreement with Oregon-based solar manufacturing startup Violet Power to be part of a non-Chinese silicon solar supply chain. REC has also revealed a similar tie-up with Group 14 Technologies to establish commercial silicon anode production facilities at Moses Lake.

REC reported first-quarter revenue of $34.6 million, down from $43.2 million in the previous three-month period. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization stood at $3.6 million, up from a loss of $400,000 in the previous quarter.

The company did not provide any quarterly profit or loss figures, but it reported cash balances of $204 million at the end of March, up from $111 million at the end of December 2021. The bank balance was mainly helped by a $110 million placement of equity, following Hanwha's investment.

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