April 26 (Renewables Now) - First-quarter sales at the polysilicon business of German chemicals company Wacker Chemie AG (ETR:WCH) were down 18% both on the quarter and on the year due to the production shutdown at its Charleston, Tennessee site.
The division's sales declined to EUR 219.3 million (USD 267.2m), the company said today, hit by lower volumes as because of the production shutdown there was much less polysilicon available for sale than a year earlier.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell 32% year-on-year and 24% quarter-on-quarter to EUR 48.2 million due to the lower sales and to ongoing costs at the Charleston site. Wacker booked no insurance compensation for the Charleston business disruption in the quarter.
Chief executive Rudolf Staudigl said the company is now starting the process of gradually ramping up the site. "This means that we will again have polysilicon from Charleston available for sale in the second quarter," the CEO added.
Production was shut down at Charleston after on September 7, 2017 a hydrogen explosion caused by a technical defect damaged a plant section.
Wacker kept its full-year outlook unchanged after the company's sales in the first quarter came in flat on a year ago and EBITDA rose 11%. Staudigl said the chemical business performed robustly in the quarter and there is a potential for the company to exceed its earnings forecast for the year.
(EUR 1 = USD 1.218)