China report: Six polysilicon producers left standing

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A dire analysis of China’s domestic polysilicon producers by the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association bemoans that only six companies were producing polysilicon in the country in the first half of 2013.

The report cites a catalogue of woes for the sector that include the slowdown in demand downstream for PV products due to the anti-dumping duties in the EU and global overcapacity for polysilicon that keeps the domestic spot market prices below production costs for all domestic producers.

In particular, the report singles out and claims that foreign producers were continuing to dump polysilicon on the domestic market perpetuating the overcapacity situation.

The report notes that in the first half of 2013, domestic polysilicon production was 28,000 tons by just six producers, while around 43 producer’s plants remained closed.

China’s entire domestic polysilicon capacity utilisation rates were said to be less than 30%.

However, 78.6% of the total domestic production was attributed to one company, GCL-Poly. Domestic production had declined 23.6%, compared with the same period a year ago.

Net imports were estimated to be in the region of about 41,000 tons, while polysilicon consumption was 69,000 tons. However, the report said that domestic production of solar cells was 11.3GW in the period with polysilicon supply double the actual demand.

International polysilicon spot prices have actually increased since the beginning of the year, according to the report, noting that spot prices have gone from a slow as US$15.35/kg to US$18.6/kg in early April. Prices have since stabilised at around US$16.6/kg in June.

The rise in spot prices had a knock-on effect on wafer and cell prices but the start of anti-dumping duties in the EU saw demand for products decline and prices started retreating in June.

Contrary reports suggesting anti-dumping tariffs on imported polysilicon from the EU would not be imposed, the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association expects polysilicon prices to stabilise in the second-half of the year due to China imposing duties.

Yet the report noted that domestic polysilicon producers had over the five or so years invested more than 100 billion yuan (US$16.3 billion) in production plants and employed nearly 3 million people before the industry collapsed.


Further checks and clarification by Johannes Bernreuter, head of Bernreuter Research and author of the global polysilicon market report, “The 2012 Who's Who of Solar Silicon Production,” points to employment levels within the Chinese polysilicon industry of 30,000 rather than the 3 million we originally reported. The error was due to translation software. 

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