Polysilicon price February 2024 and outlook (see chart below)

  • North America:US$23.65/KG, unchanged
  • Europe:US$16.04/KG, -0.3% down
  • Northeast Asia:US$8.08/KG, -2.3% down
The chart below summarizes Polysilicon price trend per region, as well as the outlook. It takes a moment to load.

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Polysilicon price index

This post is a summary of the polysilicon (silicon) price developments. The price developments of polysilicon are expressed in US$ prices converted FX rates applicable at the time when the price was valid. Polysilicon price index developments are calculated from multiple separate sources of data to ensure statistical accuracy.

The outlook for silicon prices, on the second tab, is generated from different inputs including:

  • Very recent price developments of immediate cost drivers of polysilicon (silicon) prices
  • Recent price developments of underlying feedstocks which drive the price of polysilicon
  • Market futures for both cost drives and feedstocks of silicon prices
  • Adjustment of current supply/demand imbalances in the polysilicon (silicon) market
  • Longer term trends in likely demand conditions

Further information on the Polysilicon price chart

 

What is polysilicon

Polysilicon, also known as polycrystalline silicon or poly-Si, is a highly purified form of silicon that is used in the production of solar cells and semiconductors. It is composed of small crystalline structures of silicon and is created through a process known as chemical vapor deposition (CVD).

During the CVD process, silicon tetrachloride or trichlorosilane is reacted with hydrogen gas at high temperatures to create pure silicon. This process produces polysilicon in the form of small crystalline grains that are then melted and formed into ingots or other shapes for further processing.

Polysilicon is a critical component in the production of solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. The quality and purity of the polysilicon used in solar cells can have a significant impact on the efficiency and durability of the final product. Polysilicon is also used in the production of integrated circuits and other semiconductor devices.

Polysilicon is typically more expensive to produce than other forms of silicon due to the high level of purity required. However, advances in manufacturing technology and economies of scale have helped to reduce the cost of polysilicon in recent years, making solar power more affordable and accessible to a wider range of consumers.

 

What is the difference between polysilicon, silicon and silicon metal

Silicon, silicon metal, and polysilicon are all forms of the chemical element silicon. However, they differ in terms of their purity, composition, and uses.

Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard, brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre. It is widely used in electronics, solar cells, and other high-tech applications because of its semiconducting properties.

Silicon metal is a purer form of silicon that is typically produced by reducing quartz with carbon in an electric arc furnace. It is a dark gray, lustrous material with a crystalline structure. Silicon metal is primarily used in the production of aluminum alloys, silicones, and semiconductors.

Polysilicon is a highly purified form of silicon that is produced by reducing silicon tetrachloride or trichlorosilane with hydrogen gas in a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) reactor. It is composed of small crystalline structures of silicon and is used primarily in the production of solar cells and semiconductors. Polysilicon is more expensive to produce than silicon metal because of its higher level of purity.

In summary, silicon is the basic chemical element, silicon metal is a purer form of silicon primarily used in aluminum alloys, silicones, and semiconductors, while polysilicon is a highly purified form of silicon used in solar cells and semiconductors.

 

How is polysilicon produced

Polysilicon is produced through a complex manufacturing process that involves multiple steps. Here are the general steps involved in the production of polysilicon:

Purification of raw materials

The first step in the process is to purify the raw materials used to create polysilicon. The most common raw material used is metallurgical-grade silicon, which is purified through a chemical process to remove impurities and increase its purity.

Chemical vapor deposition

The purified silicon is then used to create polysilicon through a process known as chemical vapor deposition (CVD). In this process, silicon tetrachloride or trichlorosilane is reacted with hydrogen gas at high temperatures to create pure silicon. This process produces polysilicon in the form of small crystalline grains that are then melted and formed into ingots or other shapes for further processing.

Ingot production

The polysilicon grains are melted and formed into cylindrical ingots using a process called the Czochralski process. In this process, a seed crystal is dipped into molten polysilicon and slowly pulled up to create a long, cylindrical ingot.

Wafer production

The polysilicon ingots are then sliced into thin wafers using a diamond wire saw. These wafers are then cleaned, polished, and inspected for defects.

Solar cell production

The polished wafers are used to create solar cells through a process that involves adding dopants, creating a p-n junction, and applying metal contacts. The resulting solar cells can be combined into modules and used to generate electricity from sunlight.

The production of polysilicon is a highly specialized and capital-intensive process, requiring significant investments in equipment and infrastructure. However, advances in manufacturing technology and economies of scale have helped to reduce the cost of polysilicon in recent years, making solar power more affordable and accessible to a wider range of consumers.

 

What types of polysilicon are there

There are generally two types of polysilicon:

Electronic-grade polysilicon

This type of polysilicon is used in the production of electronic components such as microchips, transistors, and sensors. Electronic-grade polysilicon has a purity level of over 99.9999%, which is necessary for these types of applications. It is typically produced using the Siemens process, which involves heating high-purity silicon in a chamber with a gaseous dopant.

Solar-grade polysilicon

This type of polysilicon is used in the production of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which are used to generate electricity from sunlight. Solar-grade polysilicon has a purity level of over 99.999%, which is slightly lower than electronic-grade polysilicon but still very high. It is typically produced using the fluidized bed reactor (FBR) process or the upgraded metallurgical-grade (UMG) process, which involves purifying metallurgical-grade silicon through a chemical process.

There is also a third type of polysilicon called metallurgical-grade (MG) polysilicon, which is a lower-grade and lower-purity form of silicon that is used as a feedstock for producing electronic-grade and solar-grade polysilicon. MG polysilicon typically has a purity level of around 98-99%, and is produced by reducing quartz with carbon in an electric arc furnace.

 

What is polysilicon used for

Polysilicon, also known as polycrystalline silicon or poly-Si, is primarily used in the production of solar cells and semiconductors. Here are some common applications of polysilicon:

Solar cells

Polysilicon is a critical component in the production of solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. Polysilicon wafers are used to create photovoltaic cells that capture sunlight and generate a flow of electrons, producing a direct current (DC) electricity that can be used or stored.

Semiconductors

Polysilicon is also used in the production of integrated circuits and other semiconductor devices. The high purity and uniformity of polysilicon make it an ideal material for creating the thin layers and precise structures needed in advanced electronics.

Optoelectronics

Polysilicon is also used in the production of optoelectronic devices, which convert light into electrical signals or vice versa. These devices are used in a wide range of applications, including telecommunications, data storage, and sensing.

MEMS devices

Polysilicon is used in the production of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), which are tiny mechanical devices that are integrated with electronics. MEMS devices are used in a wide range of applications, including sensors, actuators, and microfluidics.

Other applications

Polysilicon is also used in a variety of other applications, including in the production of high-purity quartz glass for the semiconductor industry, as a coating for cutting tools and abrasives, and as a raw material in the production of silicones and other specialty chemicals.

 

Market information

The global polysilicon market is a large and rapidly growing market. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global polysilicon market size was valued at USD 6.68 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.7% from 2021 to 2028.

The growth of the market is being driven by the increasing demand for solar energy, as well as the growing demand for electronics and semiconductors. The Asia-Pacific region is the largest consumer of polysilicon, followed by North America and Europe.

However, the polysilicon market is highly competitive and fragmented, with a large number of manufacturers operating globally. Some of the key players in the market include Wacker Chemie AG, OCI Company Ltd., GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Limited, and Hemlock Semiconductor Operations LLC.

Overall, the global polysilicon market is expected to continue growing in the coming years, driven by increasing demand for solar energy and continued investment in renewable energy infrastructure.

According to https://oec.world/ :

Silicon, >99.99% pure are the world’s 1018th most traded product.

In 2020, the top exporters of Silicon, >99.99% pure were United States ($828M), Germany ($815M), Japan ($350M), Malaysia ($209M), and Chinese Taipei ($173M).

In 2020, the top importers of Silicon, >99.99% pure were China ($942M), Japan ($576M), Chinese Taipei ($252M), South Korea ($227M), and Germany ($175M).

 

Which countries produce the most polysilicon

The production of polysilicon is concentrated in a few countries around the world. The top five polysilicon-producing countries are:

China

China is the largest producer of polysilicon in the world, accounting for about 80% of global production. Many of the world’s largest polysilicon manufacturers are based in China.

United States

The United States is the second-largest producer of polysilicon, with most of its production coming from the state of Washington.

South Korea

South Korea is a major producer of polysilicon, with most of its production coming from the company OCI.

Japan

Japan is a significant producer of polysilicon, with most of its production coming from the company Sumitomo Chemical.

Germany

Germany is a major producer of polysilicon, with most of its production coming from the company Wacker Chemie.

Other countries that produce significant amounts of polysilicon include Taiwan, Norway, and France. The production of polysilicon is closely tied to the demand for solar panels, as polysilicon is a key component in the manufacturing of photovoltaic cells.

 

Further information

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