Imports from South Korea and the U.S. dwindled, year-on-year, ensuring Germany’s Wacker and the Malysian unit of Korean company OCI will supply the bulk of the world’s non-Chinese solar polysilicon this year.
The 275,000 metric tons of annual polysilicon production facilities pushed out of the industry by the expansion of big Chinese producers is more than double the capacity lost in the last great poly market shake-out, between 2010 and 2013.
The Norwegian polysilicon maker has been been frozen out of the Chinese solar market by political tensions between Beijing and the U.S. and mothballed its Washington State production line last year. However, two recent business agreements could change all that.
The Norwegian company mothballed its Washington State facility more than a year ago and is now reliant on semiconductor-grade poly and silane gas produced at its fab in Butte, Montana – a facility for which the business says it has received plenty of interest from potential purchasers.
The Chinese government will extend duties on U.S. and South Korean polysilicon for another five years from today despite committing to buy $200 billion more American goods and services in the trade deal signed on Wednesday. Poly manufacturer REC Silicon says it expects polysilicon to form part of that trade agreement.
The Norwegian polysilicon supplier – which has most of its manufacturing operations on U.S. soil – cannot give any estimate on when its solar material production lines will return, and has been left entirely dependent on the semiconductor products made by its Montana facility.
The Norwegian manufacturer has delayed full shutdown of its U.S. polysilicon operation until mid July as President Trump and his Chinese counterpart are scheduled to hold talks in Osaka in two weeks’ time.
Stock in the polysilicon manufacturer appeared to be recovering in early trading on the Oslo exchange this morning after it cancelled plans for a private placement of as many as 50 million shares.
The Chinese polysilicon producer appears to be navigating a steady path to much bigger output without loading too much debt onto its shoulders – no wonder it feels able to cock a snook at its rivals.
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