China's polycrystalline silicon production continues to grow despite cost challenges.
China's polycrystalline silicon industry is making progress in achieving self-sufficiency as demonstrated by the expansion efforts of local manufacturers. The National Development and Reform Commission estimates this will be attained in the next few years as the country's output is projected to hit 290 million tons in 2014, with a 16 percent CAGR in 2010-14.
Golden Concord Holdings Ltd, which operates factories in Jiangsu province, will raise capacity to 46,000 tons until end-2011. It has forged partnerships with Trina Solar, Suntech Power and JA Solar.
After turning out 4,117 tons of polycrystalline silicon last year, MCC aims to boost production scale to 10,000 tons.
Companies, however, are still facing challenges in raising output, which can lower manufacture outlay. The majority of China's 30-strong supplier pool trails foreign counterparts in terms of production efficiency. Operation costs among the world's top makers range from $20 to $30 per kilogram, whereas it is $50 for local companies. The steep overhead is inevitable as most enterprises cannot reuse SiCl%u2084 and have high power consumption, typically at 180kWh.
Local yield reached 45,000 tons last year out of an 85,000 capacity. About 47,500 tons, which represent more than half of local demand, are imported.
Solar cell production lines will number 740 this year, according to the China Energy Investment. The production capacity of solar cells and modules will reach 30 and 33GW, respectively.
Equipment manufacture is also gaining steam. At present, 70 percent of machines such as ingot furnace are made locally, although upscale types, including hydriding furnaces, are sourced from foreign providers.
To boost turnout further, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has released standards on the production of polycrystalline silicon. Under the guidelines, enterprises are called to increase output of environment-friendly, energy-efficient yet high-precision variants and adopt cost-effective manufacture processes. This is likely to affect companies employing the Siemens method, which does not meet the new requirements.
Golden Concord, the world's third-largest polycrystalline silicon maker, has upgraded its Siemens process and silane mass production.
The directive also specifies recycle rates for SiCl%u2084, HCl and H%u2082.
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