SunEdison and Saudi government considering US$6.4 billion PV manufacturing complex

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SunEdison and the Government of Saudi Arabia are undertaking a feasibility study to establish a fully integrated PV manufacturing complex, including polysilicon production through to PV module assembly at an estimated cost of US$6.4 billion.

SunEdison said that it was working with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of the Government of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Arabian Investment Company (Sanabil Investments) on the complex which would potentially be built at Wa'ad Al Shammal in Saudi Arabia.

The company noted that a preliminary study carried out with the National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP) and SunEdison had been undertaken in 2013.

“We anticipate substantial growth of solar PV within the Kingdom and the region. This project will support that growth, and the growth aspirations of SunEdison and our Saudi partners,” said Ahmad Chatila, CEO of SunEdison. “The combination of SunEdison technology, and the Kingdom's world-class manufacturing and energy sector expertise will enable us to capitalise on substantial growth in the Kingdom and the region, and maximise the value of solar PV projects supported by this venture.”

The US$6.4 billion production complex if established was said to be expected to employ SunEdison's proprietary high pressure silane fluidised bed reactor (HP-FBR) polysilicon, and continuous Czochralski (CCz) crystal ingot technology and equipment.

SunEdison is currently building a polysilicon plant in South Korea under a joint venture with Samsung.

The polysilicon plant would support wafer needs of a planned 3GW of annual PV module production as well as have enough capacity to remain highly competitive and sell polysilicon on the open market.

SunEdison said that the Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals would provide the required quantities of natural gas, and the Saudi Electrical Company (SEC) would provide power requirements for the polysilicon project.

Eng. Azzam Shalabi, President of NICDP added: “This project will be capable of building a complete industrial eco-system that is sustainable and able to compete on a global level by utilising pioneering technology developed by SunEdison to produce high purity polysilicon, and high-efficiency, low-cost mono-crystalline ingots, in addition to benefiting from economies of scale given the size and vertically integrated nature of the complex.”

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