By Jan Maurits, Cofounder & President, Poly Plant Project, Inc.
t is well known that the cost of silicon materials is the major cost factor in crystalline silicon PV module production. Polysilicon price accounts for about 30% of total module production costs. While the PV industry has set a polysilicon price target of US$40/kg by 2015, this goal will not be reached if demand continues to exceed supply and if new plants cannot reduce operating costs below US$25/kg. Given a continued 30% annual growth in demand for PV modules, new polysilicon plants and expansions are needed to avoid shortages of high-purity, cost-effective polysilicon. This paper discusses the major factors in polysilicon production costs, the important elements of polysilicon plant design for reducing operating costs, the key cost elements of polysilicon plant operations, and how the design of polysilicon products can reduce crystal growth costs.