Hanwha Solutions, the Korean energy-to-material company that owns energy solutions provider Q CELLS, has become the largest shareholder of REC Silicon, a major U.S. manufacturer of polysilicon.
Moving forward, Hanwha says it intends to implement a multi-phase, multi-billion-dollar investment plan across the full solar value chain from, polysilicon to solar modules.
Following its initial $160 million acquisition to acquire a 16.67% stake in REC Silicon in January 2022, Hanwha will now become the largest shareholder of REC Silicon by acquiring an additional 4.67% stake from Aker Horizons, a sustainability investment firm that had been co-owner of REC Silicon with Hanwha Solutions. The deal is valued at around $44 million.
“Our commitment to the U.S. is more serious than ever before,” says Justin Lee, CEO of Q CELLS. “We plan to make investments to secure capabilities across the entire solar supply chain, with the goal of supplying our partners with ‘Made in America’ products that will help the U.S. regain its leadership in clean energy solutions.”
REC Silicon operates two polysilicon manufacturing facilities in the U.S. in Moses Lake, Wash. and Butte, Mont. Their combined annual production capacity totals 18,000 metric tons (MT), including 16,000 MT of granular, solar grade polysilicon at Moses Lake and 2,000 MT of electronic grade polysilicon at Butte.
Using hydropower-based clean energy, REC Silicon produces low-carbon polysilicon without emitting greenhouse gases. Compared to carbon-heavy polysilicon manufactured overseas that often relies on coal power, REC Silicon’s “clean polysilicon” is expected to draw more demand in the coming years as international scrutiny over industrial emissions and carbon footprints grows.
Besides solar grade polysilicon, REC Silicon also manufactures other materials such as electronic grade silicon and silane gas, which are essential for producing hi-tech devices including semiconductors, smartphones, flat screen televisions, laptops and hybrid electric vehicles.
“Increasing energy market turbulence tells us why securing key raw material production is so critical,” comments a Hanwha Solutions spokesperson. “Given upward pressure on oil prices and scrutiny over the environmentally damaging impacts from fossil fuels, we believe that strengthening the renewable-based energy supply chain is important – and producing low-carbon solar material is a good starting point to achieve the goal.”
Currently, Hanwha operates a module production facility in the U.S. through its solar panel business unit, Q CELLS. The Georgia-based factory can produce 1.7 GW of solar modules per year.