Category Principles of Solar Cell Operation

Wacker Polysilicon (Germany)

Wacker Polysilicon AG (www. wacker. com), is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of hyper-pure polysilicon for the semiconductor and photovol­taic industry, chlorosilanes and fumed silica. In 2010, Wacker increased its

capacity to over 30,000 tons and produced 30,500 tons of polysilicon. The next

10,0 tons expansion in NUnchritz (Saxony), Germany, started production in 2011. In 2010, the company decided to build a polysilicon plant in Tennessee with 15,000 tons capacity. The groundbreaking of the new factory was in April 2011, and the construction should be finished at the end of 2013.

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Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation (USA)

Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation (www. hscpoly. com) is based in Hemlock, Michigan. The corporation is a joint venture of Dow Corning Corporation (63.25%) and two Japanese firms, Shin-Etsu Handotai Company, Ltd. (24.5%) and Mitsubishi Materials Corporation (12.25%). The company is the leading provider of polycrystalline silicon and other silicon-based products used in the semiconductor and solar industry.

In 2007, the company had an annual production capacity of 10,000 tons of polycrystalline silicon and production at the expanded Hemlock site (19,000 tons) started in June 2008. A further expansion at the Hemlock site, as well as a new factory in Clarksville, Tennessee, was started in 2008 and brought total production capacity to 36,000 tons in 2010...

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World-wide more than 100 companies produce or start up polysilicon production. The following section gives a short description of the ten largest companies in terms of production capacity in 2010. More information about additional polysilicon companies and details can be found in various market studies and the country chapters of this report.

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Fluidised Bed Process

A number of companies develop polysilicon production processes based on fluidised bed (FB) reactors. The motivation to use the FB approach is the potentially lower energy consumption and a continuous production, compared to the Siemens batch process. In this process, tetrahydrosilane or trichlorosilane and hydrogen gases are continuously introduced onto the bottom of the FB reactor at moderately elevated temperatures and pressures. At a continuous rate, high-purity silicon seeds are inserted from the top and are suspended by the upward flow of gases. At the operating temperatures of 750 °C, the silane gas is reduced to elemental silicon and deposits on the surface of the silicon

seeds. The growing seed crystals fall to the bottom of the reactor where they are continuously removed.


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3.1.1. Siemens Process

In the late 1950s, the Siemens reactor was developed and has been the dominant production route ever since. About 80% of total polysilicon man­ufactured worldwide was made with a Siemens-type process in 2009. The Siemens process involves deposition of silicon from a mixture of purified silane or trichlorosilane gas, with an excess of hydrogen onto high-purity polysilicon filaments. The silicon growth then occurs inside an insulated reaction chamber or “bell jar,” which contains the gases. The filaments are assembled as electric circuits in series and are heated to the vapour deposition temperature by an external direct current...

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The rapid growth of the PV industry since 2000 led to the situation where, between 2004 and early 2008, the demand for polysilicon outstripped the supply from the semiconductor industry. Prices for purified silicon started to rise sharply in 2007 and in 2008 prices for polysilicon peaked around 500 $/kg and consequently resulted in higher prices for PV modules. This extreme price hike triggered a massive capacity expansion, not only of established compa­nies, but many new entrants as well. In 2009, more than 90% of total poly­silicon, for the semiconductor and photovoltaic industry, was supplied by seven companies: Hemlock, Wacker Chemie, REC, Tokuyama, MEMC, Mitsubishi and Sumitomo. However, it is estimated that now about seventy producers are present in the market.

The massive producti...

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China Sunergy

China Sunergy was established as CEEG Nanjing PV-Tech Co. (NJPV), a joint venture between the Chinese Electrical Equipment Group in Jiangsu and the Australian Photovoltaic Research Centre in 2004. China Sunergy went public in May 2007. At the end of 2008, the Company had five selective emitter (SE) cell lines, four HP lines, three capable of using multicrystalline and mono­crystalline wafers, and one normal P-type line for multicrystalline cells, with a total nameplate capacity of 320 MW. At the end of 2010, the company had a cell capacity of 400 MW and a module capacity of 480 MW. For 2011, a capacity increase to 750 MW cells and 1.2 GW of modules is foreseen. For 2010, a production of 347 MW was reported.

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SANYO Electric Company (Japan)

Sanyo (http://sanyo. com/solar/) commenced R&D for a-Si solar cells in 1975. 1980 marked the beginning of Sanyo’s a-Si solar cell mass productions for consumer applications. Ten years later in 1990, research on the HIT (Hetero­junction with Intrinsic Thin Layer) structure was started. In 1992, Dr. Kuwano (former president of SANYO) installed the first residential PV system at his private home. Amorphous Silicon modules for power use became available from SANYO in 1993 and in 1997 the mass production of HIT solar cells started. In 2010, Sanyo produced 405 MW solar cells [24]. The company announced increasing its 2009 production capacity of 500 MW HIT cells to 650 MW by 2011.

At the end of 2002, Sanyo announced the start of module production outside Japan...

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