The Korea Herald


Hanwha Solutions invests $160m in US low-carbon polysilicon firm

By Song Su-hyun

Published : Nov. 18, 2021 - 17:28

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Hanwha Q Cells’ plant in Georgia (Hanwha Solutions) Hanwha Q Cells’ plant in Georgia (Hanwha Solutions)

Hanwha Solutions said Thursday that the company has invested $160 million in securing low-carbon photovoltaic materials amid a growing demand for renewable energy in the United States.

The energy affiliate of South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group said it agreed to purchase a 16.67 percent stake in REC Silicon for $160 million.

The investment will make the Hanwha company a co-leading shareholder of the polysilicon manufacturer along with Aker Horizons, a Norway-headquartered investment firm.

REC Silicon operates two polysilicon manufacturing facilities in the US, with an annual production capacity of 20,000 metric tons: 18,000 at Moses Lake, Washington, and 2,000 at Butte, Montana.

Using hydropower-based clean energy, REC Silicon can produce low-cost polysilicon without emitting greenhouse gases.

As the US Congress is expected to pass the Solar Energy Manufacturing Act before the year’s end, Hanwha seems to be planning further investments in the solar value chain in the US.

“Signing the SEMA bill into law, and other policy incentives for the solar industry, will boost the value of those companies capable of manufacturing polysilicon in the US,” said a Hanwha Solutions spokesperson. “Capitalizing on our expertise in polysilicon production in Korea, we will generate synergy with REC Silicon production in the US.”

With the Biden administration pledging to create a net-zero economy by 2050, Hanwha expects its investment in REC Silicon to meet the growing demand for solar panels.

The administration has said solar energy could supply up to 40 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2035.

Given that the Korean company operates a solar module factory in Dalton, Georgia, with an annual production capacity of 1.7 gigawatts, the passage of the SEMA legislation will help boost the company’s investments into a comprehensive solar value chain, from the production of polysilicon through to fully assembled solar modules, according to Hanwha.

“Taking the legislation as an opportunity, the company seeks to maintain its top market share in the US,” the official said.

According to the latest Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables report, Hanwha Solutions’ affiliate Hanwha Q Cells has a 22 percent market share in the US commercial solar module market, marking two consecutive years as the No. 1 supplier.

The subsidiary has also maintained its leading position in the US residential solar markets for two consecutive years, with a 25 percent market share so far this year.