China which is the world’s largest provider of solar panels made from crystalline silicon is seeing a large number of smaller polysilicon companies go bankrupt or stop production. The reason is that for many of the smaller companies the price of polysilicon is $25-30/kg while the costs are $40-50/kg .This means that the smaller companies are making massive losses with the production of each kg of polysilicon. Note Polysilicon is a commodity industry like the memory industry and goes through periodic ups and downs when prices can go much below costs. In recent years a large number of companies set up polysilicon plants to benefit from the massive growth in the solar panel demand in Europe. However a massive glut in 2011 led the prices to fall across the supply chain of silicon solar panels. Poly prices fell from a high of $100/kg to $25/kg a drop of almost 75% in one year. This has made many of the smaller poly plants in China stop production as the price is below variable costs. The bigger producers like GCL , Renesola and Daqo have lower costs at around $25-30/kg which means they are breaking even . However for smaller companies the situation is dire as massive capacity expansion by the top polysilicon producers will continue in 2012 keeping prices at around the same level.

Smaller Polysilicon producers with small sizes and higher costs are going bust almost everyday.With poly prices falling below $30/kg even bigger producers with inefficient plants like MEMC have been forced to curtain capacity.The smaller poly producers with 2000-3000 tons capacity have virtually no future.With poly expansion still taking place by big producers even in an oversupplied market the small fish are having the capitulate.

Polycrystalline silicon or Polysilicon( poly-Si or “poly”) is a material consisting of multiple small silicon crystals.The difference between Silicon Metal and Polysilicon is that Poly is highly pure form of silicon and is much costlier.Polycrystalline silicon can be as much as 99.9999% pure (also known as 4N pure,the 4 denotes the number of 9s after the decimal point).Polysilicon was primarily used by the semi industry till 5-6 years ago and the electronic industry used 9N pure polysilicon.The Solar Industry which has become the main user of polysilicon nowadays can do with 6N pure poly.

Polysilicon is refined to single crystal polysilicon before it can be used by the semiconductor industry.However solar cells can be made even from multicrystalline polysilicon.Monocrystalline solar cells on the other hand are made of single crystal polysilicon and have higher efficiency than those made from multicrystalline polysilicon.Polycrystalline cells can be recognized by a visible grain, a “metal flake effect”. Semiconductor grade (also solar grade) polycrystalline silicon is converted to “single crystal” silicon – meaning that the randomly associated crystallites of silicon in “polycrystalline silicon” are converted to a large “single” crystal.

Silicon for Solar Cells that are used to make the normal crystalline solar panels is known as Polysilicon.This is a highly purified form of the Silicon Metal that is mined.Note Polysilicon is made through chemical processes which help in purifying the raw silicon and removing the impurities.The Silicon that is used to make Silicon Cells is also used to make semiconductor wafers which is the raw material for the Electronic Industry.Solar Cells require slightly lower purity of 6N compared to the higher 9N required by the Semiconductor Industry.Once Polysilicon is produced it has to be made into flat wafers which require further industrial processes like pouring the metal in crucible to make ingots and then cutting the ingots by wiresaws to make solar wafers.The solar wafers are then converted into solar cells by processes like diffusion,etching etc.

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