Germany’s Centrotherm Photovoltaics, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of solar photovoltaic (PV) equipment, has signed an agreement with IDEA Polysilicon to construct a polysilicon solar PV manufacturing facility in the Saudi Arabian Red Coast city of Yanbu, according to a Reuters News report. The agreement aims to provide IDEA the technology and know-how it needs to become a market force in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region, a market that’s attracting more and more interest from industry players globally.
The value of the contract wasn’t disclosed, though the project’s anticipated cost is more than 4 billion Saudi riyals ($1.1 billion), according to Reuters. Created by a group of Arabian Gulf investors, IDEA Polysilicon’s polysilicon plant will be the first in the Middle East. Planned capacity is 6,000 tons per year of high-quality polysilicon, according to the company.
Solar power investment is growing in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, with German industry participants particularly active of late. By far the largest country and economy in the region, prospects for solar energy are particularly attractive in Saudi Arabia, though the country has been slow to capitalize on them.
Centrotherm in China; Strong Solar Performance in 2011
For its part, Centrotherm, along with its peers in Germany’s solar energy sector, is looking to expand its international business. In December, the Blaubeuren-based company, announced that it’s supplying equipment for expansion of polysilicon fabrication operations with Shaanxi Tiahong Silicon Industrial Corp. (STSIC) as part of a “cooperation venture.”
STSIC began producing silicon ingots in mid-2011 using a Centrotherm multi-crystalline ingot furnace. The first phase of expansion is to realize production capacity of 1,250 metric tons of semiconductor-grade polysilicon. A second phase is to take that up to 3,000 metric tons.
In addition to fabricating polysilicon, Centrotherm and STSIC are working on technology and systems to manufacture silicon ingots and wafers. Two solar cell production lines with a combined 60-MW production capacity were being commissioned in December.
Revenue generated by Centrotherm’s Solar Cell & Module unit leapt 85.1% to 546.5 million euro (~$683.13 million) and operating earnings, as measured by EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes), leapt 70.2% to 102.3 million euros (~128.88 million) in the first nine months of fiscal 2011, management reported in November.
Consolidated 2011 revenue surged 38.7% year-over-year, to 635.7 million euros (~$795 million) in the first nine months of fiscal 2011. EBIT operating earnings dropped from 54.2 million euros (~$67.75 million) as EBIT margin was squeezed from 11.8% down to 4%, however. Consolidated net income fell to 16.6 million euros (~$20.75 million), down from 37.4 million euros (~$46.75 million) for the first nine months of fiscal 2010.