Future trends in the global polysilicon market can be closely tied to current developments in the semiconductor and photovoltaic industries. While the advent of newer, more advanced technologies is transforming the semiconductor and electronics business, stricter energy efficiency regulations are leading to widespread deployment of solar PV energy globally.
The deployment of solar PV technology in homes, commercial buildings, and industrial facilities is expected to take off in the next few years, transforming the way power is generated and consumed. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates global renewable power capacity to increase by nearly 50% by 2024 and solar PV production could account for about 60% of this growth. Polysilicon is an essential component in the solar PV manufacturing business. It is the primary feedstock material in use for the production of solar cells today.
Semiconductor sector is another prominent consumer of polysilicon. Polysilicon acts as a preferred material for manufacturing of integrated circuits and printed boards used in consumer electronics such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets, household appliances, and automotive electronics systems such as in-vehicle infotainment systems and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
Siemens process, fluidized bed reactor (FBR) and upgraded metallurgical grade (UMG) are among the commonly used technologies for polysilicon production. The siemens process technology is largely deployed in electronics and solar cells applications and produces the highest quality of polysilicon material through distillation at high temperature. Siemens process reportedly contributes to more than 85% of the polysilicon production worldwide. Meanwhile, the adoption of FBR technology is also slated to grow at a rapid pace in the coming years owing to its growing adoption in solar photovoltaic applications.
Regionally, North America is expected to be a lucrative market for polysilicon suppliers in the near future. The regional polysilicon market will be largely driven by the increasing solar PV deployment.
In 2020, solar accounted for over 43% of all new power generation capacity added in the U.S., according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The U.S. solar industry could add more than 324GW of capacity over the next decade.
Active Solar Energietechnik GmbH, Hemlock Semiconductor Group (Dow Corning, Corning Inc.), TBEA Co. Ltd, Woongjin Polysilicon Co. Ltd., Wacker Chemie AG, GCL-Poly, OCI Company Ltd., LDK Solar Co. Ltd., Tokuyama Corporation, Rec Silicon, SunEdison Inc., and DAQO New Energy Corporation are currently among the leading polysilicon manufacturers globally.
In anticipation of a robust product demand, many of these companies are focusing on ramping up production capacity. For instance, in March 2021, South Korean polysilicon manufacturer OCI announced plans to increase production capacity of its polysilicon facility in Malaysia by 5,000 metric tons with an investment of around USD 55 million.
Mergers, acquisitions, and collaborations are also among the top strategies adopted by market players to gain a stronger foothold in the polysilicon market.
Citing an instance, U.S. based polysilicon manufacturer Hemlock Semiconductor had acquired DuPont’s trichlorosilane (TCS) business in September 2020. Hemlock said the acquisition will help it better regulate the supply chain and cut costs by becoming vertically integrated in terms of polysilicon manufacturing.
Impact of COVID-19 on Polysilicon Market Trends
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastative impact on polysilicon industry trends throughout 2020. Social restrictions and lockdown measures have led to supply chain disruption and delays in new solar projects, creating a direct impact on the commissioning of upcoming projects, according to the IEA.
The IEA also reports that solar PV deployment has slowed down in many countries as lockdown restrictions prevent access to residential or commercial buildings. Additionally, households and small business may postpone or abandon their solar PV installation plans due to financial shocks and economic uncertainty.
However, as the COVID-19 situation improves and restrictions are lifted, the solar PV sector could be back on track to recovery, bolstering the global polysilicon market outlook.