Hanwha buys large stake in REC Silicon, looks to restart US polysilicon production

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REC Silicon will use Hanwha investment to restart its US polysilicon production at Moses Lake in Washington. Image: REC Silicon.

Hanwha Solutions Corporation has agreed to buy a 16.67% stake in Norwegian polysilicon manufacturer REC Silicon in a deal worth around US$160 million, with the South Korean chemical company looking to reopen REC Silicon’s 20,000MT polysilicon factory in the US.

Under the deal Hanwha, which wholly owns module maker Q CELLS, will purchase around 70 million shares from REC silicon and Aker Horizons, with each share being worth NOK20 (US$2.28), resulting in a 16.67% stake.

The transaction is expected to provide REC Silicon with enough capital to restart its operations at the 20,000MT Moses Lake polysilicon facility in Washington during 2023, which employs fluidised bed reactor (FBR) technology to produce granular polysilicon, which REC Silicon said uses 90% less power than the traditional Siemens process.

The restart was already more likely following recent policy initiatives unveiled by US President Joe Biden, REC Silicon had previously said.

The purchase will also enable further investment into its 2,000MT factory in Butte, Montana that produces semi-conductor materials. Through Q CELLS, Hanwha already operates a 1.7GW module factory in the US.

“Hanwha Solutions’ strategic investment in REC Silicon represents a step towards establishing a highly efficient, low carbon solar value chain in the US,” said REC Silicon in a company media release.

REC Silicon made clear its intentions to use the investment to strengthen its US position via greater polysilicon production and referenced the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America (SEMA) Act currently being considered by US lawmakers as a potential source of support.

“This transaction clearly demonstrates the potential to build solar manufacturing capabilities in the United States quickly and efficiently – which is the primary objective of the proposed SEMA Act,” REC Silicon said.

“The anticipated passage of the SEMA Act represents an essential element in supporting the creation of a profitable and efficient solar value chain in the United States. REC Silicon is now well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Tore Torvund, REC Silicon CEO.

Hanwha said it wanted to be represented on REC Silicon’s board of directors and a general meeting will be called so shareholders can consider the proposal, which is supported by Aker Horizon.

REC Silicon’s chairman of the board, Kjell Inge Røkke, is planning to step down and Aker Horizons will propose that Kristian Monsen Røkke is elected as the next chairman.

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