The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Pricing Squeeze Pushes Silicon Suppliers To New Production Process

Pricing for solar PV polysilicon and wafers will plunge yet again in 2012, warns NPD Solarbuzz, but that may open up a door for a new breed of silicon material.

The pricing woes for suppliers of solar PV starter materials, polysilicon and wafers, are well documented. From several hundred dollars per kilogram a few years ago, pricing has been eviscerated due to overcapacity and overcompetition, now to under $30/kg (and we're hearing of sub-$25/kg now on the spot market). That's dangerously close to, if not outright well below, manufacturing costs for many suppliers. As a result, many have been taking capacity offline to try and stem capacity and thus prop up and even increase pricing again.

Unfortunately that climate isn't changing any time soon, warns NPD Solarbuzz, and thus "less competitive" manufacturers will continue to idle or shut down factories. (Just last week REC closed another multi-hundred-megawatt silicon plant in Norway, on top of several site closures last fall.) The net effect will be an industrywide decline in utilization rates in 2012, from 76 percent to 66 percent for polysilicon output, and 64 percent to 57 percent for wafers.

Industry revenues for solar PV polysilicon and wafers. (Source: NPD Solarbuzz)

Amidst the pricing pressure, though, is a ray of light for some polysilicon producers: "cast-mono" silicon, a hybrid of mono- and multicristalline ingots grown in conventional multicrystalline DS casting furnaces, a lower-cost method than the traditional Czochralski-grown (Cz) mono-Si ingots. Some of the more vertically integrated module makers — particularly those in China — started producing cast-mono wafers and modules last year, and Solarbuzz sees their output growing to 2.4 gigawatts (GW), about 8 percent of total PV wafer production, and rising to 25 percent of all wafer production by 2016.

Making these hybrid cast-mono products is not without its challenges, from addressing a wide range of conversion efficiency requirements to fixing its nonuniform appearance. Nonetheless, silicon suppliers "are very optimistic about cast-mono," seeing it as "a low-cost approach with relatively low technical barriers to achieving this goal," says Charles Annis, VP at NPD Solarbuzz. And this year, "we will see how the end market receives a strong supplier push of cast-mono," he adds.

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now



A Case Study in Energy-Transition Momentum

Tim King South Australia is clearly at the forefront of the global energy transition as it establishes a fast-moving model oth...

Listen Up: Can I Get Solar if my Roof is Shaded?

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World Rooftop solar panels only work when they are in direct sunlight. So if you have a partially shaded roof, the output o...

US Senate Democrats Unveil Energy Bill That Restores PTC and Extends ITC

Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that would provide more tax credits for renewable energy while killing some tax ince...

US, China Solar PV Players Team Up, Invest $100M in Chile, Uruguay and Japan

Andrew Burger Private equity infrastructure specialist Hudson Clean Energy Partners and Hong Kong-based independent power producer ...


Yaskawa – Solectria Solar Provides Inverters for One of the Largest Professional Sport Stadium PV Systems in North America

Yaskawa - Solectria Solar, a leading U.S. PV inverter manufacturer, announced today tha...

$100 Discount on 5-day Advanced PV Project Experience Workhop

Upcoming 5-day Workshops: Nov. 7 - 11 Feb. 6 - 10

IREC Announces Changes in Regulatory Team

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), a not-for-profit organization which for...

IREC Awarded New Funding to Advance Digital Credentials

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) proudly announces funding for an innovat...


Solar Decathlon 2015 Opens to the Public in California

Today, Oct. 8, the biennial Solar Decathlon opened up to the public at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, ...

ENER-G CHP technology selected for major London housing scheme

ENER-G has been selected to supply combined heat and power (CHP) technology for phase two of the Leopold Estate housi...

What's On The Card?

Think back to the last networking event you attended. You probably walked out with at least a couple dozen business c...


Necessity is the mother of innovation. Our planet is going through major changes in climate. This of course will affe...


Jim is Contributing Editor for, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, ...


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Solar Power Asset Management and Performance

SEIA and SEPA collaborated with industry leaders to present the first ev...

Solar Power Northeast

  From the team that produced Solar Power Southeast and the sol...


Saving Vs. Gaining

Whenever I do a national keynote speech or customized coaching session f...

SPI Brings Out The Best In Solar

Phew…...those cross-country flights sure take a lot out of a guy....

Join us at the New Solar Power Northeast

From the team that produced Solar Power Southeast and the sold out P...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now