According to the recent announcement of GCL, the Xuzhou newly added 20,000 MT capacity in Fluidized Bed Reactor (“FBR”) based granular silicon was completed by the end of October 2020. After rigorous equipment testing and related system debugging, it has been officially put into production on 10 November 2021. So far, its total capacity of granular silicon has achieved 10,000 MT with a total planned capacity of 500,000 MT. LONGi, Zhonghuan Solar, Wuxi Shangji Automation, JA Solar, and others all have ordered granular silicon, and purchasing processes are proceeding smoothly.
Granular silicon: Quality are improved and production cost are optimized; GCL planned to build three large 100,000 MT capacity projects eventually;
Products quality: major end-users have fully passed the pulling tests for granular silicon. The metal and carbon content, donor, and acceptor impurities all have reached the N-type material standards, which enable end-users to largely improve the uniformity and stability of mono-crystalline silicon.
Cost: The power consumption per kg of FBR has been reduced to less than 18 kWh about two-thirds lower than the improved Siemens method.
Manufacturing: The comprehensive production cost is about 30% lower than the Siemens process.
Application: Reduce the cost of crystal growth by nearly 20%.
Productivity: More than Multiple 100,000 MT capacities have been established in Xuzhou, Leshan, and Inner Mongolia.
Table: GCL granular silicon expansion layout. Total planning capacity of 500,000 MT.
Carbon emissions: its carbon emission is significantly lower than the Siemens process. On October 27, GCL has obtained the carbon footprint certification of granular silicon issued by the French National Energy Agency. The carbon footprint value of each kilogram of granular silicon produced is only 37kg of carbon dioxide equivalent, well below the German WACKER global record of 57.559 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Crushing cost and the risk of introducing impurities: Compared to the traditional silicon refining process, granular silicon has advantages in the transportation process. It effectively optimizes packaging and manual procedure. Granular silicon meets the size requirements of the re-feeding material. Because of its spherical shape and fluidity, it does away with the crushing process thereby lowering costs and avoiding losses. In fact, It supports the automatic feeding process. Therefore, it further eliminates the risk of introducing impurities during the crushing process.
Order: GCL singed long term procurement contracts with Longi, Zhonghuan Solar, JA Solar and Shuangliang, some of which includes granular silicon. The percentage of granular silicon used by mainstream manufacturers is higher than before. The more demand results in the short supply of granular silicon.
Chart: Long term procurement contracts of silicon (including granular polysilicon) between GCL with Longi, Zhonghuan Solar, JA Solar and Shuangliang
Compared with silicon by siemens method, granular silicon has four advantages.
Lower cost: It is estimated that the production cost of granular silicon is around RMB 28/kg (RMB 12000/ton industrial silicon price, Baotou and Leshan electricity prices), which is more than 20% lower than rod-like silicon. In the medium and long term, granular silicon (to full the crucible and increase the yield) and CCZ (continuous Czochralski) are beneficial to the reduction in cost and the increase of efficiency. It is expected that the cost will be reduced by 20% ~ 30% in two links of silicon and wafer.
Higher quality: At present, the wafer of granular silicon has even better electrical property and is suitable for N-type silicon wafer. Compared with rob-like silicon, with CCZ continuous feeding technology in the medium and long term, the electrical property at the head and tail of granular silicon rob is more unanimous, which is better for N-type silicon wafer.
Shorten the production cycle by nearly half: The construction period of granular silicon project is a little more than one year while that of rob-like silicon by siemens method is near about two years, which means the former project can put into operation in a shorter time. It is of benefit to solve the problem about the supply imbalance in silicon and to speed up the improvement the market share of granular silicon.
Easier for the energy consumption index and capacity expansion: With the 70% power saving, 60-70% carbon emission reduction and more than 70% comprehensive power consumption decrease, it is easier to get the energy consumption index and to expand the capacity of granular silicon, promoting solar as the main force of carbon neutrality.