Sunday, May 4, 2008

Silicon Plant Expansion

Solar energy is growing profoundly as the price of fossil fuel rises. On April 21, 2008, the price of oil hit 117 dollars per barrel. For this reason, people are looking for alternate sources of energy to lessen the heavy usage of fossil fuel. I was intrigued by the huge increase in both capacity and price for polysilicon the last few years. Recently, there were so many well-known polysilicon companies undergoing plant expansion process to double or triple their production capacity. Companies around the world such as Timminco Limited, Wacker Chemie, and Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) are building additional silicon plants or expanding their facilities because silicon is interconnected to the use of solar power capturing. Therefore, my paper introduces solar energy and investigates the supply and demand of silicon. Next, it analyzes how the silicon production capacity is increased to meet the energy needs in the United States. Finally, it forecasts the demand, supply, and price for the polysilicon industry.
The technical section of the paper mentions the process to produce polysilicon. Newly invented equipment such as Siemen reactor and fluidized bed reactor (FBR) are discussed. The polysilicon industry is emphasized since it has transformed from a semiconductor industry to have a main focus on the PV industry. The forecasting of polysilicon is further evaluated, where the limiting factors of the supply and the changing in polysilicon company structure to remain competitive in the market are discussed.

1 comment:

L Passaniti said...

Sounds interesting. I researched some of this for my podcast (comparing fatality risks for coal and petroleum to energy from solar and wind) -- how the increase in demand for solar energy may affect the practices of the silicon industry.

It's interesting to think of how this could also affect markets -- like the glass industry -- that use materials from which silicon is derived (eg silica sands). I wonder if we'll see the cost of glass increase over the next few years as the demand for solar energy increases...