Demand For Polysilicon Is Not Going Away

- Apr 08, 2019-

According to the general manager of French PV production equipment provider Apollon Solar, Jed Kraiem, multicrystalline cells are expected to have a share of only 40% in 2019 global demand, with mono PERC cell structures now clearly being in advantage thanks to higher efficiencies and increasingly lowering costs. He claims, however, that technological advances in the solar industry historically are implemented first in the mono segment and then transferred to the multicrystalline business.

In a statement released in the form of a Q&A round by Canada-based silicon mining company and vertically integrated producer of solar grade silicon metal and polysilicon, HQP Silicon Resources, the general manager of partner company Apollon Solar SAS, Jed Kraiem, has exposed his views on the future of multicrystalline products in the PV industry, while also presenting the recent advances of its company’s metallurgical approach for the production of polysilicon.

According to Kraiem, multicrystalline cells will represent about 40% of the global market in 2019, which would correspond to approximately 50 GW or 175,000 MT of polysilicon. “The new mono PERC cell structures enabled higher solar cell efficiencies and lower SoG-Si consumption, monocrystalline cells are presently gaining market shares compared to multicrystalline, but this does not mean that the market for multicrystalline solar cells is not without a future,” he said in one of his answers.

He claimed, on the other hand, that historically in the PV industry technological advances were always made first in the monocrystalline segment, and that these are transferred to the polysilicon business at a later stage. “When the significant cost reduction emanating from technological advances reaches the multi-c Si, it always gains back the market share lost to mono-Si,” he also stated. “So if there is a conclusion I would like readers to take away from this exchange is that demand for solar energy is not going away, therefore demand for SoG Si is not going away either.”

Kraiem is also convinced of the strong potential of Apollon Solar’s PUREVAP technology for the production of polysilicon, which is said to be the first ever conceived, although not the only one, to manufacture entirely monocrystalline Czochralski (Cz) ingots made of 100% solar grade silicon with upgraded metallurgical grade silicon (UMG). He also claims, on the other hand, that the company has obtained open circuit voltage of 690 mV on standard Photosil Multi-crystalline Si wafers with a resistivity of 0.5 in partnership with Australia’s University of New South Wales, and that it also achieved a maximum conversion efficiency of 21.1% on N-type wafers, by teaming up with the Australian National University. “Furthermore, without betraying any secret, we can already say that this record should be largely beaten in the coming months,” he also affirmed.

Apollon Solar entered into a partnership with HQP Silicon Resources in December 2017. At the time, the two companies said the successful commercial scaling-up of the PUREVAP process would lead to the production of solar quality silicon at a significantly lower cost compared to those of competing process technologies, including Siemens chemical process used by competitors such as Norway’s Elkem Solar, and Silicor Materials, which is planning to build a $1 billion factory in Iceland.

Later in August 2018, HQP unveiled a plan to set up a pilot production to transform quartz into silicon metal with a capacity of 50 MT. The production equipment will be installed at the facility of PyroGenesis Canada (PYR) in Montreal, at a cost of around CA$8.9 million (approximately US$6.8 million).