GTM warns of global polysilicon overcapacity again
Solar cells. Author: Arne Krueger. License: Creative Commons.
Oct 15, 2014 - Global polysilicon manufacturing capacity is expected to rise to 481,000 tonnes in 2018, surpassing even the upper end of demand projections for 416,000 tonnes, a new report indicates.
GTM Research said yesterday that the industry may once again face polysilicon overcapacity as early as 2016. An estimated minimum of 60 GW of photovoltaic (PV) installations will be required to fill the gap between supply and demand at that time.
Polysilicon is the main raw material for most photovoltaics, including crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV which accounted for 90% of worldwide PV panel manufacturing in 2013. "After enduring a traumatic period of sustained overcapacity and price troughs in 2011-2013, the global polysilicon market has rebounded strongly in 2014," reminded Shyam Mehta, GTM Research’s lead upstream solar analyst. That balance, however, is very frail and is being threatened by renewed capacity expansion plans among sector players.
About 131,000 tonnes of polysilicon production capacity is expected to be put on stream in the next two years alone. These plants will be producing enough of the raw material for the production of 25 GW of c-Si PV modules. With the new additions, the polysilicon industry will reach a total capacity of 437,000 tonnes in 2016, or as much as is needed for the production of 85 GW of c-Si panels.
Taking into consideration this projected solid capacity expansion, there would be a limited threat of oversupply next year, but it will become more serious in 2016, according to Mehta. Worldwide polysilicon manufacturing capacity is seen to increase to 376,000 tonnes in 2015 as compared to a forecast demand of 328,000 tonnes.
GTM Research’s report, Polysilicon 2015-2018: Supply, Demand, Cost and Pricing, also shows that polysilicon pricing is estimated to range from USD 18.00 (EUR 14.15) to USD 24.00 per kg.