The participants in the silicon market are a useful starting source of estimates about the market. As any good anthropologist knows, a source has its biases, but is nevertheless an interesting data point.
One interesting information source is from REC (Renewable
Energy Corporation), a large Norwegian player in the Solar PV industry. They presented during the Piper Jaffrey
In the presentation there is an indication of estimates for Metric Tonnes of Polysilicon Capacity out to 2012. It includes, various players and even lists some as “wild cards”.
From a downstream perspective the expectations of
polysilicon are quite important as the expiring feed in tariffs from
In the power business silicon doesn’t count, gigawatts on the grid count. So let’s take some data points from REC and convert them to gigawatts. It is important to note these supply estimates don’t include amorphous silicon modules or thin film power coming online.
Various participants are slicing and utilizing ever thinner
pieces of silicon to achieve ever greater wattage output per gram. A current crude estimate from some of the
best indicates 6-10 grams of silicon per watt of nameplate power. Some are claiming use of only 2.5
grams/watt. All producers are working to
REC estimates provide ranges and include the “wildcards” The
estimates of gigawatts coming online is below. Remember the solar industry is pretty buzzed from an 07 year which saw
estimated 3 gigawatts come online.
Next week I will write about the supply side of the
equation, which has some very interesting properties in terms of subsidies and
insolation globally which receives little coverage in the popular press. If you invest in solar, I would urge you to
study a global insolation map as the business is global.
Hint: a supply glut could be a non-issue
with a modest decline in module prices that would easily clear the
marketplace. Thin film will ship a few gigawatts/yr itself in the next 1-3 years. The