China mulling restrictions on polysilicon, wafer production tech exports


China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) have announced that they plan to revise the country's Catalogue of Technologies Prohibited and Restricted for Export.

In a joint statement, the two ministries said that three technologies related to the PV manufacturing industry could be included in the catalog – wafers, black silicon, and ingot casting.  If the three categories are added to the restrictions list, manufacturers will need technology export licenses from the respective provincial departments to export such products.

China accounted for more than 98% of global wafer production for the solar industry in 2021, according to reports from the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA). Although the plan is still in a phase of public consultation, this attempt shows the country's efforts to protect its most advanced solar technology and maintain the competitiveness of its solar industry.

“Such technology-related export restrictions are nothing new,” Frank Haugwitz, senior adviser of Apricum Cleantech Advisory, told pv magazine. “The last version of this list was published in August 2020 but it took a good two years to come into effect after the consultation process was completed.”

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Haugwitz said the intention is clear – China plans to keep its lead in this part of the value chain.

“At the same time, if you take into account the years of significant investment in wafer R&D, this may not be surprising,” said Haugwitz. “On the one hand, it affects plant manufacturers, but also producers who may be considering setting up wafer production in other regions. In other words, such a technology transfer abroad would also be subject to such restrictions.”

*The headline of the article has been amended on February 2 to reflect that the proposed restrictions relate to the exports of production equipment and technologies for polysilicon and wafers.

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