Solar Energy Demands Greater Polysilicon Supply

The solar photovoltaic market has been facing severe shortages of polysilicon over the last few years. But, this key component of many solar panels should catch up with demand in 2008, according to Frost & Sullivan's latest forecast.

The Global Solar Photovoltaic Market earned revenues of $6.49 billion in 2005 and Frost & Sullivan estimates this figure to reach more than $16 billion in 2012.

"We expect polysilicon supply to catch up with the demand already in 2008," said Alina Bakhareva, Renewable Energy Programme manager at Frost & Sullivan. "The majority of the new quantities will be supplied to the market by the top four producers that are expanding their existing production capacities."

Four top polysilicon producers are expected to add more than 17,000 tons of capacity this year. This would represent more than a 50 percent increase over current capacities.

"Since these companies are well-established in the industry and have accumulated many years of experience," continued Alina Bakhareva, "they have quite a short ramp-up time for the new plants, and we can expect them to start the production on time and stick to their announced schedules."

Demand from the semiconductor industry is expected to grow at steady one-digit rates. Demand for solar-grade polysilicon is expected to reach more than 50 percent of the total demand for high purity silicon in 2008-2009.