Polysilicon or refined silicon is the raw material behind most of the world’s consumer electronics.Polysilicon is used to make both solar and semiconductor silicon wafers.Silicon wafers are used in making chips which are used by the Intels and Samsungs of the world while Solar Wafers are used in making solar crystalline panels used in generating electricity from the sun.Most of the world’s major solar energy companies used c-Si Technology in making solar panels.Polysilicon is an energy intensive process which requires cheap electricity.The polysilicon is produced mostly in the western countries like Japan,USA and Germany now.However the rise of solar panel producers in Asia has given rise to large volume Asian producers of polysilicon as well.Note Polysilicon production is concentrated in the hands of 8-9 companies unlike solar panel production which is done by hundreds of companies.This is a capital intensive process and requires around 2 years to complete a single plant.Semiconductors require higher purity levels of Polysilicon than the solar industry.The massive increase in demand from the solar industry has led to massive growth in poly production.Here are a list of the main polysilicon companies in the world
Crystalline Solar Cell Suppliers are fast disappearing due to the changing dynamics of the global c-Si Solar Panel Industry.With vertical integration becoming imperative as margins and prices get squeezed,independent solar cell suppliers are having a tough time.Increasing raw material costs in terms of higher polysilicon and solar wafer prices and competition from numerous players has decreased the number of pure play solar cell suppliers.However a few of the top solar cell producers continue to grow and flourish though they are also entering into other segment of the PV solar supply chain.Most of the independent solar cell suppliers are from Taiwan and some from China.European solar cell producers have mostly disappeared due to the high cost base of the European factories.Note this list is mostly composed of solar cell producers who don’t have big module making operations.You can find a list of the top solar energy companies most of which make solar cells as well.
South Korea is one of the biggest shipbuilders with major companies like Daewoo,Hyundai Heavy and Samsung.However its being beaten down by the low cost Chinese companies which are using cheaper capital and lower labor costs to press their advantage.South Korean Shipbuilders have been trying to diversify into offshore wind energy in order to safeguard their revenues.However they face tough competition in this renewable energy sector as well from incumbent wind turbine compaeis as well as Chinese WTG companies like Sinovel,Goldwind and others.Now the South Korean government is helping them with a 300 billion won research fund.This fund will be used to do R&D into building of “Green Ships” which are becoming the new growth segment.
China based GCL Poly is the biggest solar wafer producer in the world wresting the crown from LDK Solar in 2010.GCL Poly is now set to grow even bigger in 2011 raising its wafer capacity almost 85% making it No.1 by far.Note solar wafers are made up of polysilicon and used as raw materials for making solar cells which generate electricity from the sun.They are very similar to semiconductor wafers which are used to make the basic building blocks for electronics.GCL Poly has seen a massive rise from 2010 when it started to producer solar wafers.The company’s strategy of setting up plants near its major customers have landed it major deals and lower the cost in the supply chain.
China has come under a lot of fire for its proectionist trade policies from mulitnational corporations like Siemens,GE,Google as well as its major trading partners.One of the bones of contention is its export restrictions on crucial minerals like zinc,lead,cadmium, gold, indium, iron ore, lime, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, phosphate, salt, tin, tungsten, vanadium and zinc.China is surprisingly the biggest producer of these minerals and has been hoarding these minerals.Note China is the biggest importer of minerals like copper,coal,iron ore etc. so its hoarding is surprising.This action by China came under the scanner when it restricted the export of rare earth minerals over a small dispute with Japan.This resulted in alarm bells ringing in Europe,USA and Japan.These countries scurried for alternative sources of these crucial REE in other places as China controlled more than 95% of the world’s supply.