Investments by Hanwha Group and the potential passage of the Solar Energy Manufacturing Act could expand US production of polysilicon and metallurgical-grade silicon.
From pv magazine USA
REC Silicon and Ferroglobe have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop an end-to-end US solar supply chain from raw silicon, to polysilicon, and finally fully assembled modules. Recent investment into REC Silicon by the Hanwha Group, in conjunction with Hanwha’s subsidiary Qcells, was the impetus for the MOU.
REC Silicon is a producer of advanced silicon materials, supplying high-purity polysilicon and silicon gases to the solar industry worldwide, and it was producing silicon in its facility in Moses Lake, Washington, until mid-2019, when China imposed steep tariffs on US-made polysilicon, in retaliation for tariffs imposed on Chinese-made solar panels in 2013.
In the REC Silicon audiocast Q4 2021, CEO James May said that investments by Hanwha in January “improves the company’s liquidity position and is expected to give us the capital necessary to restart the FBR facility in Moses Lake and make targeted investments in and improve our product portfolio in the semiconductor materials segment.” The Moses Lake facility is expected to be operational again in 2023.
Ferroglobe is a producer of silicon metal and its alloys and it supplies critical materials for many industrial and consumer products, from silicones to solar power cells, from steel to aluminum to foundry components. The company will be a critical partner in ensuring a steady supply of fully traceable metallurgical grade silicon metal produced in the US from locally sourced raw materials.
In March, Hanwha Solutions, parent corporation of Qcells, announced that it was stepping up efforts to supply customers with “Made-in-America” products when it became the largest shareholder of REC Silicon. Following its initial $160 million acquisition to acquire a 16.67% stake in REC Silicon in January 2022, Hanwha announced that it was acquiring an additional 4.67% stake from Aker Horizons in a deal valued at around $44 million. This investment will help American manufacturers secure the raw material critical to the solar supply chain.
Hanwha’s US initiative supports the Biden administration’s efforts to increase solar power generation by 40% and to decarbonize all electricity by 2035. Hanwha sees the enactment of the Solar Energy Manufacturing Act (SEMA) as critical to a US-based solar supply chain.