Faced with changes of the industry and increasing competition, Motech Industries, Taiwan's leading PV firm, has decided to overhaul its operation, including shutdown of its crystal growth factory in Tainan, which will affect the jobs of some 100 workers.
The decision to shut down the crystal growth factory in June, following termination of crystal slicing operation in Q4 2017, was part of its strategy exiting upstream manufacturing, and was announced at meetings with related employees in June 22 and 25, according to Chinese-language Apple Daily.
The company blamed the decision on the effect of China's new PV policy, dubbed 531 policy, which has driven down the capacity utilization rate of the crystal growth factory to merely 20-30%, forcing it to shut down the factory to stem loss. Motech pointed out that it will make proper arrangements for the factory's workers, either transferring them to the PV-cell factory in the South Taiwan Science Park or providing them vocational training.
The Southern Taiwan Science Park Administration noted that Motech already reported the decision to shut down the factory to the administration on June 22, promising to transfer the 160 workers to the PV-cell factory or lay them off, according to the Labor Standards Law. By comparison, shutdown of the crystal slicing factory in Oct. 2017 affected the jobs of 200 workers, a move made in response to the emergence of diamond-wire slicing, substituting for slurry slicing.
Following shutdown of the crystal growth factory, Motech will outsource brick production and intensify PV-cell manufacturing, shifting its focus to downstream modules and systems gradually.
Motech pointed out that despite China's new policy, taking-delivery demands from regular Chinese customers persist and volume of orders has not been affected very much, although orders from irregular customers have been influenced at various extents.
Thanks to absence of import barrier for polysilicon, Taiwanese firms still enjoy edge in crystal growth and crystal slicing, in terms of pricing and materials, over their Chinese rivals. However, since 2017 following sharp growth in demands for DWS (diamond-wire sliced) polysilicon, Taiwanese firms began to transplant crystal-slicing capacities to mainland China. Despite retention of trade protection, given the factors of power rates and transportation, Taiwan's multi-si crystal growth capacities may follow suit, unless they are upgraded.
EnergyTrend originally predicted the occurrence of oversupply this year, leading to capacity phaseout from 2019, which has occurred ahead of schedule, following sharp decline in demands in Q3, due to China's new policy, resulting in serious oversupply. Thus the shutdown of the crystal growth factory by Motech.
Despite completion of 250 MW module production line, Motech has not let up pace shifting towards middle- and downstream sectors of the supply chain, a strategy responsible for the closure of upstream capacities. Other Taiwanese firms are also following the same course, at various speeds, though.
(By Daisy Chuang; Image credit: ESA_events via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)
Note: PV wafer line consists of two major parts, crystal growth and crystal slicing, with the former comprising mono-si products, such as cylindrical ingots, and multi-si products, such as square bricks. In recent years, traditional slurry slicing has given way to diamond-wire slicing rapidly, due to high cost and pollution for the former.