Clean Power

Published on October 7th, 2014 | by James Ayre


SunEdison Predicts New FBR Polysilicon Process/Facility Will Lead To $0.40/W Solar Modules

October 7th, 2014 by  

SunEdison is making the prediction that with the large-scale implementation of its new high-pressure fluidized bed reactor technology at its new facility in Korea that it will be able to supply source polysilicon capable of allowing 400-watt peak solar PV panel performance at a cost of $0.40 per watt sometime before 2016, according to reports.

The previously mentioned high-pressure fluidized bed reactor technology (HP-FBR) that SunEdison recently developed reportedly produces high-purity polysilicon over 10 times more efficiently than the industry standard Siemens processes, while at the same time using considerably less energy doing so (90% or so less energy).


“Solar energy is at a transformational moment in time and innovative technology is what will power that transformation,” explained SunEdison CEO Ahmad Chatila. “Our latest advance is a leap forward in solar technology and will enable solar power to become the lowest cost energy solution – not just an alternative to other renewables, but the cost-winner over fossil fuels as well.”

Chatila also made note of the fact that the new polysilicon plant in Ulsan, Korea, had been expanded from its original design to produce 13,500MT per annum, rather than 10,000MT. Currently, full production capacity at the facility is expected to be reach by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

If SunEdison’s predictions (or is that assurances?) are true, then the company will have a significant advantage over its competitors. As it stands now, the company’s rivals — such as Yingli Green — have module costs below $0.50/W.

Very interesting developments in the industry lately…

Image Credit: SunEdison

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • solarone

    When I installed modules on my roof ~4 years ago, I purchased 220W poly modules for 2.65$/W – a good deal at the time. In four more years or less, I will probably be able to purchase near 400W single crystal modules (of ~ the same area) for ~.5$/W. 1.8x the power/area at 20% of the cost. That is progress.

    • Bob_Wallace

      My first set (2 – 35 watt panels) were $12/watt, in the late 1980s. A few years later, about 1993, I bought 400 watts of used panels for $4/watt.

      My present 1.2 kW array cost $3.85/watt in 2002 or so. I got them new but at a discount. Someone had bought them because the world was going to crash due to Y2K, but never installed them.

      And now I’ve been looking at panels for $0.85/watt. Maybe they’ll down another dime by next summer.

      • solarone

        If you need them now there is no sense in waiting – short term prices are not always predictable. Your comment also makes me wonder if there will ever be a significant market in used/refurbished panels (used teslas on the brain…). Now the cost is so low, I would think twice about putting someone’s cast off panels on my roof unless I knew the pedigree very well. Yet, it seems likely that modules will be deinstalled from say the local big box store that goes out of business with a lot of life left in them.

        • Bob_Wallace

          If you’ve been following the industry then you’d know that these are not short term prices. There was a sweet buying opportunity back a couple of years ago when the industry shakeout was happening but now we’re back to where manufacturers are making money and continuing to find ways to manufacture for less.

          (And I’ve got all the projects I can handle right now.)

  • Can you remember the other companies? This is the first I remember hearing of this.

    • JamesWimberley

      Report from IHS claiming FBR already has 10% of the market (link). Other companies named are REC Silicon and GCL-Poly.

      • Mike Shurtleff

        Informative link!
        “Cell manufacturers
        are requiring higher-quality polysilicon to meet their efficiency road map”
        Maybe the Siemens process will hold its own? Maybe Crystal Solar or 1366 Technologies have better approaches?

    • Mike Shurtleff

      link here: “FBR polysilicon technology – promise or hype?” – March 2014
      “The recent announcement by US manufacturer REC Silicon that it would establish a new polysilicon plant with an annual production capacity of 19,000 metric tons (MT) has highlighted an upcoming trend in the polysilicon industry: the rise of fluidised bed reactor (FBR) technology.”

  • Matt

    Another 20% cut in module cost (from 0.50 to 0.40), ba-bam!
    Those BOS cost better start dropping fast or they will end up being 90% of the cost.

  • UncleB

    America saved! With these big outfits competing U.S.A. will soon lead the world in Solar installations! Next: Wind Power .

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