Silicon market structure shifts19 Jul 2007 • by Natalie Aster
According to UK-based market research firm Merchant Research & Consulting Ltd., China may become a leader in silicon production by overtaking America and Russia. Demand shifts towards polycrystalline silicon and silicon wafers.
Rise in the demand for polycrystalline silicon used in the production of semiconductors and solar batteries is a current trend.
The production of polycrystalline silicon is a vital segment of the global production in general. Complete silicon chains, including poly-Si production, are present in the three countries: the USA, Japan, and Germany. The former USSR featured such a chain too.
Prior to its collapse, the USSR accounted for 12% of the global poly-Si production. Current poly-Si production in Russia is close to zero, while its import grew by 1.5 times.
Silicon metal demand is governed by the state of aluminum and chemical industries, which consume nearly a half of the produced metallic silicon. Silicon market is affected by political processes and antidumping measures.
New EU members adopted European anti-dumping laws. These countries consumed 50K mt/y of Chinese-origin silicon metal and 20K mt/y of Russian-origin silicon metal free from any antidumping measures. The EU imposed 49% duty on Chinese products. Russian products are next to follow.
Some experts predict silicon price rise due to tight supply with energy and imposed antidumping measures.
The Chinese silicon market, characterized of the increase in silicon production and lose prices, has to transfer the bulk of its sales to Japan and East Asia.
Western European production increase is insignificant, and demand will augment. The commodity stocked by European traders from new EU member-states prior to imposing anti-dumping duties provides solid revenues.
The rise in extra-pure silicon consumption in the coming years is forecasted, which strengthens a driving urge for new technologies.
Silicon is a very useful element that is vital to many human industries. The largest application of pure silicon (metallurgical grade silicon) is in aluminum - silicon alloys, often called "light alloys", to produce cast parts, mainly for automotive industry (this represents about 55 % of the world consumption of pure silicon). The second largest application of pure silicon is as a raw material in the production of silicones (about 40 % of the world consumption of silicon). Pure silicon is also used to produce ultrapure silicon for electronic and photovoltaic applications.
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