Tongwei and GCL Technology (the freshly renamed GCL-Poly Energy) are the new leading duo in the polysilicon industry, according to Bernreuter Research. The polysilicon market expert has published its latest ranking of the top ten producers.
After Tongwei superseded Germany-based Wacker Chemie as the world’s largest polysilicon manufacturer in 2020, GCL ousted Wacker from the second place in 2021. Each of the two Chinese companies exceeded an annual output of 100,000 metric tons (MT) for the first time in 2021, and each will reach a production capacity of 370,000 MT after massive expansion by 2023.
Wacker has fallen back to the fourth rank, closely behind China-based Daqo New Energy, which has maintained its third place. “Wacker will take a similar course as former market leader Hemlock Semiconductor did a decade ago,” says Johannes Bernreuter, head of Bernreuter Research. “The company is increasingly focusing on expanding its leading position in the electronic-grade polysilicon market for semiconductors; at the same time, it is abandoning more and more market share in the rapidly growing solar-grade sector.” Consequently, Wacker will be overtaken by two more Chinese manufacturers, Xinte Energy and East Hope, and slide down to number six by 2023, predicts Bernreuter Research.
When U.S.-based Hemlock Semiconductor lost its top position in 2012, China had a share of just 30% in global polysilicon production. By 2021, this share had already risen to 76%, and to even more than 80% in the solar-grade sector. Since a gigantic expansion wave is currently underway in China, the country’s share in the global polysilicon output will grow even further: to more than 90%. In wafer, solar cell and module production, the Chinese industry has already reached such or still higher market shares.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has opened the eyes for what it means to be economically dependent on a dictatorial regime. Western governments should not make the same mistake with China,” comments Bernreuter. “It is high time to establish non-Chinese solar supply chains. China has demonstrated what the ingredients of success are: low electricity rates for power-hungry polysilicon and ingot production, loan guarantees for private investment, cost-efficient equipment manufacturing and strategic foresight.”
Source: Bernreuter Research