REC Silicon, a leading polysilicon manufacturer, has announced plans to halt polysilicon production at its Butte facility in Montana, United States. The decision comes amidst concerns over escalating electricity expenses in the region, projected to persist in both the short and medium term.
The company's subsidiary, REC Advanced Silicon Materials LLC, will oversee the shutdown of polysilicon production, albeit continuing operations for an additional six to nine months to fulfill existing customer orders.
Despite the closure of the Butte facility, REC Silicon remains committed to polysilicon production at its Moses Lake plant in Washington state. The Moses Lake facility, which commenced operations in the fourth quarter of 2023, is poised to play a pivotal role in REC Silicon's ongoing endeavors. The company secured a significant 10-year polysilicon supply agreement with Hanwha Solutions, a South Korean conglomerate, valued at approximately US$3 billion.
Anticipated deliveries from the Moses Lake facility are slated to commence in the first quarter of 2024, with production expected to ramp up to 50% by the second quarter and reach full capacity by year's end.
In light of these developments, REC Silicon's recent quarterly performance reflects adjustments in its polysilicon sales. In the last quarter of the year, the company sold 182 metric tons (MT) of polysilicon capacity, including 145MT of semiconductor-grade polysilicon. This marks a significant decline from previous years, with polysilicon sales for 2023 totaling 749MT, nearly half of the volume recorded in the corresponding period the previous year when sales reached 1,502MT.
CEO Kurt Levens expressed the company's rationale behind the decision, stating, “We did everything in our power to return profitability to the polysilicon business in Butte, however, forecasts for sustained high electricity costs that are outside of our control necessitated this decision. After the transition has been fully executed, we expect an accretive impact to our earnings.”
REC Silicon's strategic realignment underscores its commitment to navigating challenges in the polysilicon market while optimizing operations to ensure long-term sustainability and profitability.