Münich, Germany [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] Wacker Chemie AG has announced that it has withdrawn from the silicon wafers business and will transfer its shares in its joint venture Wacker Schott Solar GmbH (WSS) to Schott Solar AG.
The joint venture had initially developed two separate technologies for manufacturing solar wafers on a parallel basis. The ingot process, on the one hand, and the ribbon drawing technique EFG that is employed solely by Wacker Schott Solar, on the other. Initially both partners agreed to discontinue wafer manufacturing based on the EFG process and as a result, Schott Solar will continue to operate the wafer business independently.
Dr. Patrick Markschläger, managing director of Wacker Schott Solar noted: “In light of the current price developments with respect to silicon and solar wafers, ingot technology has now proven to be a more economical process. For this reason, the decision to close EFG manufacturing that both parties support represents a consistent step towards ensuring the cost-effectiveness of manufacturing wafers.”
Any wafer volumes that are lost will be compensated for by POLY Wafers, Schott says.
According to Wacker, the reason for the move is a decision to focus solar activities exclusively on its core competency – the production of hyperpure polycrystalline silicon.
In the context of this transaction, Wacker says it will perform its respective duties as a shareholder and will support WSS and partner Schott with a variety of measures. All in all, Wacker Chemie AG is expecting from its share in WSS a non-recurring negative impact on pre-tax profit of about €50 million as well as an increase in financial debt of some €65 million.
“Focusing on hyperpure polysilicon production provides an excellent base for our long-term competitiveness and profitability”, said Wacker Group CEO Rudolf Staudigl, who added: “In this field, we can play out our technology leadership and our strong market position with maximum impact.”