REC Silicon still on track to reopen Moses Lake polysilicon factory in 2023

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manufacturing credits included again congressional settlement bill, New solar development plans may return to the US table. The current draft of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) includes $370 billion in spending on energy and climate change, reducing the manufacturing costs set out in the previous Solar Energy Manufacturing Act for America (SEMA) Act. The credit stays the same. ), PV wafers ($12/m2), thin film and silicon PV cells (4¢/WDC), thin-film and silicon PV modules (7¢/WDC).

If the credits are approved, the industry as a whole will be excited, but there are no companies like Hanwha and REC Silicon.Hanwha is expanding its business Qcells Solar Panel Campus It holds 1.4 GW of funds without credit guarantee as the largest shareholder of REC Silicon, whose polysilicon fab in Moses Lake, Washington has been closed for years, but by Q4 2023. It will be reopened. Hanwha has committed to securing manufacturing capacity in North America.Across his chain of photovoltaic supplies — the company Canadian glass makers Its Qcells modules and REC Silicon acquire silicon metal supply From the Ferroglove factory in the USA.

A diagram showing the stages of making a silicon solar panel. Illustrated by Al Hicks/NREL

But what is still missing are domestically produced solar silicon ingots, wafers and cells. Currently, there are no North American suppliers offering the critical silicon product steps from raw material to final solar panel – at least not yet.

solar power world After discovering the permit plan for the “ingot and wafer process” facility submitted to Moses Lake City Council, we spoke with Chuck Sutton, Vice President of FBR Sales at REC Silicon. Sutton could not comment on specifics, but said the solar manufacturing credit will determine the company’s future plans.

“We are acquiring land around us and exploring opportunities. That is the normal course of business,” he said.

In November 2021, REC Silicon submitted “Project Riser” to the Moses Lake City Council, before Hanwha was formally involved. Project Riser detailed plans to rezoning neighboring land parcels from agricultural to industrial with the aim of building ingot and wafer production sites. The new construction is an expansion of REC Silicon, but will be operated by a sister company. The City Council has approved a land use request for 162 acres in March 2022.

REC previously owned parcels of land but sold them for agricultural use. Polysilicon market reversal Support cheap Chinese production.

project riser plan

“We didn’t think we would do anything more around here, so over time we ended up selling the land,” said Sutton. “Now we know we have some other opportunities, so we figured we should buy it back just to get it.”

When the SEMA Act was Enacted First announced in June 2021Sutton said “probably half a dozen” different companies want to build ingot plants in the area because of Washington’s abundant hydroelectric power and proximity to REC’s polysilicon operations. Knowing how long it would take to acquire the land, REC decided to act aggressively while SEMA credits were being discussed.

If the IRA is passed to include solar manufacturing credits, Moses Lake could begin processing ingots and wafers.Washington state offers tax breaks to solar product makers, governor has allocated $10 million to invest in electrical infrastructure Located in the REC area. REC said in a permit document that the Project Riser development could create jobs for up to 2,500 people and he said $2 billion in construction costs.

However, REC Silicon is now focused on resuming polysilicon manufacturing operations at its Moses Lake fab. New engineering jobs have been posted, and Sutton said the group will hire 150 of his people in the coming months to get on track for production in the fourth quarter of 2023. All reactors at the site need to be updated — the factory used to produce polycrystalline silicon, but now the industry is moving to monocrystalline silicon.

Wafers coming off the line at SolarWorld’s Oregon manufacturing facility.Archive photo from Oregon Department of Transportation

“Right now everything is mono and we’re moving towards n-type, so that’s where we need higher purity,” Sutton said. and will handle that new process.”

REC Silicon is taking things one day at a time, but may have bigger plans for the future.

“Our largest shareholder, Hanwha, has expanded its operations in Georgia and has publicly stated that it wants to do something in the United States. I have to,” said Sutton. “We want to stay low carbon and we want to do as much as we can in North America. We wish it well and will continue to explore all opportunities here.”

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