Polysilicons Market: Introduction
Polysilicons, also known as polycrystalline silicon, is one of the most abundant elements on earth. Polysilicon is a hyper pure form of silicon. Its properties are quite similar to those of a semiconductor, which is precisely why it is popularly used as a feedstock material in the electronic and solar photovoltaic industry.
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Photovoltaic cells, which prominently use polysilicon, use 6N (99.999999) pure poly. In semiconductor electronics, polysilicon is firstly refined and converted to the single crystal polysilicon form before being finally put to use during the manufacturing process. Though solar cells can easily be made using multicrystalline polysilicon, the single crystal polysilicon form offers better efficiency than multicrystalline polysilicon.
The fluidized bed reactor (FBR) and Siemens manufacturing process are the two most commonly used production methodologies used for the manufacturing of polysilicons. Of these two, the Siemens manufacturing process is likely to dominate the market throughout forecasted period.
Polysilicons Market: Market Dynamics
Driver: The major use of polysilicon is in the manufacturing of PV (Photovoltaic panels) and semiconductors. Governments’ initiatives to support clean energy in major countries coupled with increasing consumer awareness around sustainability is augmenting the demand for solar panels, which in turn, is increasing the demand for polysilicons in the global market. The PV industry accounts for the largest share in the polysilicon market and this trend is likely to prevail during the forecasted period.
As per the report published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Journal of Photovoltaic in 2000, the semiconductor industry consumes 80% of the polysilicon production. However, as per the current market dynamics, the industry is witnessing a major trend reversal, whereby the solar industry accounts for approximately 85% of polysilicon production.
Trend: To become stronger in the polysilicon market, companies are adopting the established strategy that revolves around investment, expansion and securing long term contracts. In February 2017, Daqo New Energy Corp announced that it is increasing its production capacity of polysilicon to 18000 MT per annum.
However, consolidation can also be expected in the market during the forecast period. More recently, OCI Company Ltd. announced that the company will acquired Tokuyama’s Malaysian polysilicon operations by March 2017.
It has been witnessed that the supply of polysilicon in 2014 and 2015 was higher in comparison to the demand generated from the PV industry. This particular industry consumed approximately over 80% of polysilicon production, which led to swelling inventories and downward spiraling spot prices in January 2016.
Restraints: The high capital expenditure needed for the establishment of polysilicon production facility discourages new companies from entering into the market, which in turn, effects the overall market growth.
Moreover, over supply coupled with declining prices of polysilicons and anti-dumping policies in China are some of the major challenges being faced by the manufacturers.
However, taking the current market scenario in perspective, the companies are adopting forward integration strategies and entering into the semiconductor and photovoltaic sector.
Polysilicons Market: Regional Outlook
Asia Pacific holds the largest market share of polysilicon market and owing to rapid growth in solar industry, semiconductor industry and high GDP growth rate, it is anticipated that Asia Pacific will remain the market leader during the forecast period. China, India, Japan and South Korea are the major producer of polysilicon in this region. It has been witnessed that Chinese polysilicon producers are expanding their production capacity continuously and few among them are also trying to break the oligopoly that six established manufacturers have in the production of high-purity polysilicon for the semiconductor industry.
North America holds the second largest market share in the polysilicon industry and is followed by Europe. Several initiatives taken by the U.S government to lower down the carbon footprint and to fuel growth into the consumer electronics sector is driving demand for the polysilicon market.
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Polysilicons Market: Key Players
Some of the key players in the polysilicon market are REC Silicon, Wacker Chemie, Tokuyama Corporation, Hemlock Semiconductor Group, GCL-Poly, LDK Solar Co. Ltd, OIC Chemical, SunEdison, Hemlock Semiconductor Group, TBEA Co. Ltd and DAQO New Energy.