Siliken Chemicals, a subsidiary of Spanish renewable energy company Siliken, has commenced continuous production of purified solar-grade silicon at its pilot plant facilities in Casas Ibanez, in an effort to control solar cell manufacturing costs.
(October 13, 2010) — Siliken Chemicals, a subsidiary of Spanish renewable energy company Siliken, has commenced continuous production of purified solar-grade silicon at its pilot plant facilities in Casas Ibañez (Albacete-Spain), producing the first quantities of the material.
The startup of this final stage of the production process, using in-house fluidized bed reactor technology (FBR), has been possible thanks to an intensive and complex research process involving several internationally renowned technological groups that have collaborated with the company. Over the coming months, work will continue to ensure that the plant is in optimum condition for production with the aim of it being fully operational for the first quarter of 2011, a year in which the company expects to fulfill its objective for industrial scale production, according to the Siliken business plan.
Purified solar grade silicon, obtained from metallurgical silicon, is the basic raw material used in the production of solar cells used to manufacture photovoltaic modules. Demand for this product has experienced significant growth over recent years due to the boom in the sector and any shortage may create price tensions on the market, which will inevitably be passed on to all parties in the industry, the company asserts. However, it will be difficult to pass the full increase in costs on to customers due to the current pressure to reduce costs within the sector.
For Siliken, the startup of its purified silicon production subsidiary is a decisive move in its bid to reduce solar panel production costs and maintain its competitiveness.
High quality and efficiency are not the only factors for competitiveness, said Siliken chairman Carlos Navarro, noting that, in the current climate, manufacturing costs are a decisive factor for maintaining competitiveness. He called the in-company silicon production a fundamental strategic milestone. “This, together with increases to our production capacity abroad and a decisive commitment to automation, will enable us to continue to increase our international presence and market share over the coming years, to have control over the costs of the industrial process and to improve our margins whilst ensuring we maintain our quality and commitment to customers.”
The company, whose major shareholder is the Serratosa-Luján family of Valencia, Spain, has also reported a turnover of €156.8 million for the first half of this year, with both direct solar panel sales and the construction of photovoltaic plant’s reaching a total of 75 MW of power. This figure represents a 267% increase on the €42 million figure reported for the same period last year. Siliken expects to end the year with more than 140 MW sold (10% of which will be sold in Spain) and a turnover in excess of €300 million.