Strong solar and semiconductor demand but still a sizeable oversupply of polysilicon

An oversupply of polysilicon will double in 2018 despite strong demand in solar and semiconductor markets, according to a report Opportunities in The Solar Cell Market For Thin Film Technology, recently published by The Information Network (, a New Tripoli, PA-based market research company.

Consumption of polysilicon is booming as the semiconductor industry, particularly DRAM and NAND, is reaching record revenue and shipment growth. Solar installations are also growing strongly, increasing 35.5% in 2016.

Nevertheless, increased capacity put in place by polysilicon incumbents and capacity growth of Chinese manufactures pegged to increase 35% in 2017 is giving rise to an oversupply that will grow from 7.1% in 2016 to 15.0% in 2018.

As shown in the Table below, the industry will see an oversupply of 76,000 metric tonnes in 2018.

  2016 2018 2020
New PV (MW) 78,260 86,909 101,361
Inventory Requirement (MW) 3,913 4,345 5,068
Inventory % of demand 5% 5% 5%
Total PV Module Shipments (MW) 82,173 91,254 106,429
Efficiency loss 3% 3% 3%
Total PV Cell Shipments (MW) 84,638 93,992 109,622
Thin Film Supply (MW) 4,696 4,606 4,460
Polysilicon Consumed (Tonne/MW) 5 5 5
Total Solar Poly Required (MT) 423,696 464,804 546,845
Poly demand from Semis (MT) 34,180 40,119 39,044
Total Poly Demand (MT) 457,876 504,923 585,889
Poly Supply (MT) 490,250 580,910 640,453
Over Supply (MT) 32,374 75,987 54,564
% Over Supply 7.1% 15.0% 9.3%
Source: The Information Network (

“In addition to polysilicon capacity increases, the transition from slurry wire slicing to diamond wire is creating more silicon wafers by reducing kerf loss, adding to the oversupply noted Dr. Robert Castellano, President of The Information Network.

The Information Network is a consulting and market research company addressing the semiconductor, LCD, HDD, and solar industries.


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