China / Germany – German silicon recycling firm SiC Processing is set to further expand its operations at a cost of Euro 150 million (US$ 218 million) as it responds to demand from solar-panel manufacturers for lower-cost recycled materials. This follows investment of Euro 80 million last year.
SiC markets a process it developed for recovering silicon carbide and glycol from slurry produced during the manufacture of solar panels and wafers. It has built an international customer base of wafer manufacturers in the photovoltaic and semiconductor industries.
‘Wastage is very low in our process,’ said CEO Thomas Heckmann. ‘Our yield rates are up to 95%, helping manufacturers save money on material input.’
Solar panel makers are bracing for increased competition because newer markets in the USA and China may not compensate for slower demand in Europe, where governments are reining back on renewable energy subsidies.
World panel production will rise to 41.5 gigawatts of generating capacity this year from about 32 GW last year, but London-based analyst New Energy Finance estimates demand will be no more than 28 GW.
Yet Mr Heckmann said SiC could add 15 production lines, including 10 in China, over the next two years. It currently has 32 production lines at plants in Norway, Germany and China. He predicted that sales for the company, which is controlled by Jersey-based Nordic Capital, would grow by 31% to Euro 210 million this year.
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