Solarvalue returns to the drawing board over UMG silicon viability


UMG silicon hopeful Solarvalue AG has cancelled its upgraded metallurgical grade silicon (UMG-Si) supply contract with Moser Baer Group. Their UMG-Si method was to be expanded into full-scale UMG production at its Slovenian manufacturing site, but Solarvalue has not been able to achieve required purity levels in laboratory tests. In addition, UMG and polysilicon prices have declined substantially, making current production processes economically unrealistic.

However, the company is not giving up on the endeavour. Solarvalue said they would develop a new process and a new economic feasibility model, all to be evaluated at a different laboratory. The required funds are in hand for these tasks.

“We are facing a completely new situation and a totally new challenge,” noted Dr. Christian Bornhauser, COO of Solarvalue. “The negative results from the evaluation of the process technology in the U.S. laboratory in the last few months and the simulation of the planned production process based on this as well as the current, significantly reduced silicon prices have made this step inevitable.

“As has been shown, essential changes in the process sequence and in the plant technology must be made to achieve the necessary purity while meeting adjusted cost targets. With the new production process, the goal is, of course, also to produce solar-grade silicon from metallurgical-grade silicon at long-term competitive costs,” Bornhauser continued. “A separate laboratory facility is expected to show whether the targeted process will provide the expected purity and what production costs are to be expected. Concurrent feasibility studies at renowned equipment manufacturers will have to show whether the process can be used industrially.”

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