China’s solar industry demanding higher quality polysilicon

China’s Ministry of Commerce’s recent decision to only slightly raise penalty duties on imports of Korea polysilicon was an indication that the government realizes that imports, especially high-purity imports, are needed to keep the country’s solar industry buzzing without dramatically increasing production costs.

Chinese demand for high-purity polysilicon (9N to 11N as opposed to the standard 6N to 8N for solar grade) has increased as the solar industry shifts to P-type monocrystalline and PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) technologies and future shift to N-type mono for IBC (Interdigitated Back Contact) heterojunction (HJ) cell technology.

Already, OCI said it was increasing its production of high-purity silicon to 60% of its output from around 42%, and several large Chinese producers are following suit. Also, imports of high-purity material are supplementing domestic production.

However, most of the smaller polysilicon makers can’t produce the higher quality material and are supplying the multicrystalline wafer demand. It was this sector behind the Chinese government’s dumping investigation while GCL-Poly and Daqo New Energy stayed on the sidelines.

New import duties are: OCI at 4.4%, Hanwha Chemical, 8.9% and Hankook Silicon at 9.5%. China also punished those Korean polysilicon producers that didn’t cooperate with the government. These included an 88.7% tariff on SMP and a 113.8% tariff for Woongjin and KAM Corp.

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