Gas recovery unit for polysilicon production at the Nünchritz plant. This plant recycles by-products to feed them back into the manufacturing process.
02-05-2012: Wacker Chemie AG’s hyperpure polysilicon production facilities at its Nünchritz site officially went into operation. In the presence of Stanislaw Tillich, the prime minister of Saxony, and numerous other high-ranking guests from politics, business, and public administration, the Munich-based chemical company officially inaugurated its new production complex. Overall, Wacker has invested some €900 million in the facilities, thereby creating more than 500 new jobs.
Initial production began at the facilities in fall last year, and the start-up phase is now virtually complete. The plant is expected to reach its full nominal capacity of some 15,000 metric tons per year within the next few weeks. All in all, Wacker is ramping up its total capacity for polysilicon to around 52,000 metric tons by the end of 2012, making it one of the largest producers worldwide. With the new polysilicon site currently under construction in Charleston (Tennessee, USA), Wacker’s total annual production capacity will rise to around 70,000 metric tons by 2014, strengthening its position as a leading producer of high-quality semiconductor- and solar-grade silicon.
Rudolf Staudigl, president and CEO of Wacker Chemie AG, said in his speech: “This expansion of capacity is a key prerequisite to enable us – now and in the years to come – to meet our customers’ demand for top-quality polysilicon for use in highly efficient solar cells. Wacker’s entire polysilicon output, including that from Nünchritz, is almost completely under contract until the end of 2015.”
After massive overcapacity in the solar industry and consolidation within the sector had a strong impact on Wacker’s polysilicon business in Q4 2011, demand turned up markedly again in the first few months of 2012. Volumes in Q1 2012 were almost 50 percent higher than in the same period last year. Currently, all of the company’s production facilities are running at full capacity. From today’s viewpoint, demand will remain robust in the months ahead.
In his speech, Staudigl also spoke about Wacker’s expectations for the solar market. “We are very optimistic about the outlook for photovoltaics because the significant price decline for polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules strengthens photovoltaics’ competitiveness as an energy source,” highligthed the CEO. This means there will be new markets to access in future, he said, with the main growth markets being China, India and the USA. “The polysilicon from Nünchritz will assist us in meeting this growth in demand”, Staudigl emphasized in his remarks.