SRI Consulting (SRIC) recently released a techno-economic report, “Polysilicon for Solar Wafers,” that highlights process design and manufacturing economics.
SRI Consulting (SRIC) recently released a techno-economic report, “Polysilicon for Solar Wafers,” that provides the process design and manufacturing economics for three of the dominant commercial processes. Polysilicon is the backbone of both the semiconductor industry and the photovoltaic business, providing the basic substrate upon which electrical circuits are built and sunlight is captured and converted to electricity. The purity of silicon used to make solar wafers can be considerably lower than the electronic-grade silicon used to make semiconductors.
As of the third quarter of 2009, global demand for polysilicon was approximately 50,000 metric tons per year, split nearly evenly between demand for semiconductors and solar applications. Recently, silicon-based photovoltaic-grade producers have learned how to produce the photovoltaic cells directly from polysilicon. Eliminating the costly step of first converting polysilicon to higher-purity single-crystal silicon allows for the use of lower-cost manufacturing technologies.
“The knowledge of competitive manufacturing costs is important because the business has reached overcapacity,” said Anthony Pavone, senior consultant at SRIC. “The global economic recession of 2008-2009 resulted in flat polysilicon demand, yet capacity increased due to government subsidy. Polysilicon producers who can’t compete on cost will be driven out of business.”
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