Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Polysilicon Glut
Rethink Energy polysilicon cost compared to module cost. Graph courtesy of Rethink Energy.

Clean Power

Polysilicon Glut & Cheaper Solar Panels?

Rethink Energy UK is predicting a glut of polysilicon leading to a fall in the price of the main component of solar cells by 2023. 

Nineteen Chinese companies are expanding capacity in order to produce millions of tons “the most likely outcome is another decade of overcapacity and prices bumping along at marginal production costs.” According to lead analyst Andries Wantenaar, prices for polysilicon and hence solar modules will continue to rise during 2022 as supply continues to run short of demand. However, then, supply will leap ahead again as new factories go online and prices will drop.

“From January 2023 this will begin to change. Prices will enter a constant decline as new factories come online across China’s periphery. Polysilicon production capacity will rise from 800,000 tons today, to 1.1 million tons by the end of 2022, then to between 1.4 million and 1.7 million tons by the end of 2023.

“Wafer thicknesses are being substantially reduced — the switch from 175-micrometer to 155-micrometer means a 12.9% reduction in polysilicon per watt, which explains why the above graph has the peak polysilicon price in late 2022 by the peak module price in late 2021. The polysilicon factories are being run at a very high capacity factor of 97%, at least while prices are high. Combined with the very prompt commissioning of new facilities, we estimate that 216 GW’s worth of polysilicon will be produced in the first half of 2023, up from 125 GW in the first half of 2022. That means the polysilicon supply will have mostly caught up with solar demand and the rest of the supply chain.”

Module prices are almost entirely guided by polysilicon price. As polysilicon production increases, module prices are expected to drop. Although the disruptive pandemic shutdowns have affected output, they have not led to any significant price increases of non-polysilicon elements such as glass, backsheets, silver paste, etc.

Some Western polysilicon production capacity is being brought back online, but it may not survive without tariff protection and incentives such as those included in the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act. If China’s solar panels become fully excluded for the US, the EU, or other countries, then India and Indonesia may be able to export to Western wafer factories.

LONGi (the world’s biggest wafer maker) expects that 1,000 GW could be manufactured globally each year by 2030. Rethink Energy predicts that “Before long manufacturing solar panels will be overtaken by grid integration as the most pressing constraint on the energy transition.”

Featured graph courtesy of Rethink Energy.

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].


You May Also Like

Green Economy

UK think tank ReThink Energy has produced its latest report on the transition of the steel industry, Green Steel Premium, Myth or Reality. Real...

Clean Power

According to Andries Wantenaar of Rethink Energy, approximately 330 GW of solar modules were manufactured globally during 2022. Wantenaar expects that these modules will...


Crash and burn. That is the conclusion of the researchers at UK’s Rethink Energy. This article draws its main points from their recent report,...

Clean Power

“Rumors of the death of the wind industry are vastly over-exaggerated,” Rethink Energy reports, and it predicts rapid growth for the sector over the...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.