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Jan 13, 2010

IDC studies polysilicon plant for nascent SA solar panel industry

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The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) is planning to initiate a study into the viability of a polysilicon plant in South Africa, as interest in the solar energy market continues to grow.

Polysilicon is a key component in the manufacturing of solar panels.

The IDC stated in a request for proposal (RFP) document on its website that South Africa’s solar photovoltaic market had been facing a significant challenge owing to shortages and allocations of polysilicon over the last few years.

“The shortage of feedstock between 2004 and 2007, reached a critical point, which, in turn, affected the production of solar panels and consequently, the industry growth. With demand from the semiconductor and solar energy industries expected to grow by between 5% and 9%, demand for solar-grade polysilicon is expected to reach over 40% of the total demand in 2009-2010,” it stated.

The IDC said that South Africa would need a vibrant photovoltaic manufacturing industry if the country were to meet its renewable energy goals.

The global solar photovoltaic market earned revenues of $6,49-billion in 2005, and was expected to reach more than $16-billion by 2012.

The RFP calls on consultants to study the technical, financial and strategic aspects needed to facilitate the establishment of a polysilicon plant.

Study areas that needed to be addressed included a market analysis and a five-year outlook for polysilicon, a review of all technologies currently available, as well as the price and availability of raw material and energy.

Based on the available information, the consultant would also have to ultimately develop an investment strategy and recommendation based on the key success factors of the polysilicon business, the potential operating and technology partners, as well as a potential operating site and a high-level business plan.

Although the duration of the study would be dependent on the consultant ultimately appointed, the IDC stated that at least three progress reports or feedback sessions would be required during the duration of the study.

Interested parties should contact the IDC no later than January 22.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
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