Hanwha Solutions, the Korean company behind the Hanwha Q CELLS solar brand, plans to invest $160.47 million for a 16.67% stake in REC Silicon ASA, the company that owns the REC Silicon solar-grade polysilicon manufacturing plant in Moses Lake, Washington. Hanwha, which supports the 1.7-GW Q CELLS solar panel assembly plant in Dalton, Georgia, said this move will secure low-carbon PV materials for the U.S. supply chain.
The investment in REC Silicon will allow Hanwha to make further investments in the U.S. solar value chain, dependent on passage of the Solar Energy Manufacturing Act (SEMA) by Congress, which provides tax credits to solar manufacturers.
REC Silicon operates two polysilicon manufacturing facilities in the United States, with an annual production capacity of 20,000 MT: 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.
The Moses Lake facility has been dormant for the last few years as it has been priced out of the Chinese market and there are currently no solar cell manufacturers in the United States.
See more about the battle over polysilicon and solar manufacturing between the United States and China here.
“Most US-based polysilicon manufacturers have halted their production for solar-grade polysilicon, including REC Silicon at Moses Lake. Signing SEMA into law and leveraging smart trade and other federal policies will boost solar manufacturing in the United States,” said a Hanwha Solutions spokesperson. “Capitalizing on our expertise in polysilicon production, we will reopen the Moses Lake facility and jumpstart REC Silicon production in the U.S.”
No further information at this point as to where the solar-grade polysilicon production in Moses Lake will head to be made into solar cells for use by U.S. solar module assemblers.