SolarWorld secures ultra-low-cost polysilicon with JV in Qatar

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In an effort to secure ultra-low-cost polysilicon for future consumption and cost competiveness, SolarWorld has partnered in a new joint venture polysilicon enterprise, Qatar Solar Technologies (QST), to be based in the Emirate of Qatar. Located close to chemical facilities in the Ras Laffan Industrial City in the northeast of Qatar, the new 3,600MT facility will be built by Centrotherm Photovoltaics and subsidiary SiTec at a cost of over €500 million. Production is planned to start in the third quarter of 2012 with full capacity reached in 2013.

SolarWorld has taken a stake of 29% in the newly founded QST, while the Qatar Foundation will have a 70% ownership. The foundation was formed in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar. The Qatar Development Bank will have a 1% share in the JV.

Tapping into the fact that Qatar is one of the world’s largest suppliers of natural gas, the facility will use gas-powered electricity generators as well as an exhaust recuperation plant for poly production, which will also lower energy consumption. As a result, the facility could be one of the lowest-cost producers of polysilicon compared to similar sized facilities.

Photo caption: Left to right. Mr Rashid Al Naimi, VP of adminstration, Qatar Foundation and Frank Asbeck, CEO, SolarWorld AG.

“With the conversion of natural gas via electricity into solar-grade silicon the reach of the gas virtually increases by a factor of more than 25 for as long as our solar power modules can generate clean energy from the sun,” noted Frank H. Asbeck, Chairman and CEO of SolarWorld AG.

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