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On June 26, Jiangxu GCL Silicon Material Technology Development Co. Ltd. (GCL Silicon) formally opened its demonstration facility for the applications of granular polysilicon technology. A ceremony was held to celebrate the inauguration of the new facility, which is located in Xuzhou. GCL Silicon told local news media that the facility represents a major step forward in the development of the market for granular silicon. Going forward, GCL Silicon will continue to race toward the commercialization, mass production, and sales of granular polysilicon by maintaining a multi-path approach that encompasses both “internal and external circulation schemes”. GCL Silicon is a subsidiary of GCL-Poly, a major Chinese supplier of polysilicon and wafers.
Possessing valuable first-hand data on the applications of granular polysilicon, GCL-Poly commenced the construction of the demonstration facility in Xuzhou this March. The project was completed within just 97 days, thus showing the usual and rapid pace that GCL-Poly has taken in expanding its business operations. Currently, GCL-Poly is conducting internal tests and client tests to verify solutions involving the adoption of granular polysilicon for different applications. Specifically, GCL-Poly and prospective buyers of granular polysilicon are working out the proper replacement ratios. Hence, the demonstration facility has been built to conduct these trials.
Local news media also reported that significant breakthroughs in the development of granular polysilicon were made by another subsidiary of GCL-Poly in 2020. With a small furnace, the researchers at GCL-Poly substantially raised the technological maturity of granular polysilicon. This achievement was also made possible with the further optimization of the crystal pulling process. The result of this trial was followed up by another successful trial using a large furnace. Afterward, GCL-Poly was able to adopt granular polysilicon for the manufacturing of N-type ingots. The company was also able to consistently raise the quality of N-type ingots while lowering the cost for the product, thereby leading the industry in this respect.
To extend its competitive advantage and facilitate China’s efforts in achieving carbon neutrality, GCL-Poly has been expanding production capacity for granular polysilicon via its various subsidiaries. According to local news media, GCL-Poly held a virtual conference on February 3 to announce that the production capacity of its subsidiary Jiangsu Zhongneng Polysilicon Technology Co. Ltd. (Zhongneng) had risen to the 10,000MT level from the previous level of 6,000MT. Zhongneng manufactures granular silicon using the FBR process. Furthermore, GCL-Poly is setting up two granular polysilicon production sites that are respectively located in Sichuan and Inner Mongolia. The first phase of the Sichuan base (100,000MT) is under accelerated construction and scheduled for completion in the middle of 2022. The base in Mongolia (300,000MT) will soon commence construction as well.
Several major customers in the downstream sections of the supply chain have also accepted the granular polysilicon from GCL-Poly. For instance, strategic partners LONGi and Zhonghuan Semiconductor announced this February that they entered new material procurement contracts that amount to a total product quantity of 441,400MT. These contracts are expected to hasten the rise in the market penetration rate of granular polysilicon. Moreover, a subsidiary of JA Solar entered a long-term agreement to have Zhongneng provide 145,800MT granular polysilicon from July 2021 to June 2026. This agreement was signed on May 28.
Additionally, a day after JA Solar and GCL-Poly sealed the long-term agreement, China Quality Certification Center formally certified that GCL-Poly has set a new low for carbon footprints in granular polysilicon production. The CO2 content in GCL-Poly’s manufacturing process is much lower compared with the CO2 content in Wacker Chemie’s manufacturing process. The German polysilicon supplier Wacker Chemie was the previous record holder.