IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2020 - 51

In 2017, China's solar cell production exceeded 68 GW,
an annual increase of more than 30%, constituting nearly
70% of the global total.
Crystalline Silicon Material

The most upstream part of the industrial chain is the manufacturing of solar crystalline silicon. Owing to its high technological barrier, the core technology of polycrystallinesilicon production was long dominated by companies in
the United States, Germany, Japan, and South Korea. Since
2005, China's polycrystalline silicon industry has been primarily promoted by the rapid development of its domestic
PV industry. The industry's consolidation has increased
through mergers and acquisitions as well as the elimination of enterprises in response to overcapacity. By the end of
2017, the global polycrystalline silicon production capacity was 0.52 million tons/year, and China was capable of
producing 0.276 million tons/year. Domestic production
was dominated by 10 enterprises, each having a production
capacity exceeding 10,000 tons/year, with a total production
capacity of 0.228 million tons/year, amounting to 82.6% of
the country's polycrystalline silicon production capacity.
In recent years, driven by a strong domestic PV market,
national polycrystalline silicon enterprises have promoted
gradual technological improvements, maintained high load
productions, and constantly improved their process technology. This resulted in a continuous increase in production
capacity and decrease in the energy consumption associated with manufacturing as well as other rapid reductions in
production costs. In 2017, global polycrystalline silicon production reached 0.44 million tons, of which China contributed 0.242 million tons, accounting for more than one-half
(54.5%) of the world's polycrystalline silicon output. Thus,
China's dependency on foreign market supplies of polycrystalline silicon feedstock was reduced.
Silicon Wafers

Silicon wafer manufacturing is a capital-intensive downstream process of the polycrystalline silicon industry, with
its products classified as monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon wafers. Due to different manufacturing processes, monocrystalline silicon products are characterized
by a high conversion efficiency, operability in low operating temperatures, and good low-light performance; polycrystalline silicon products, however, have dominated the
PV application market in recent years because of their cost
advantages. But since 2016, the cost of monocrystalline
silicon products has greatly declined thanks to advances in
manufacturing technology.
China's share of the world market for monocrystalline silicon wafers was approximately 18% in 2015, and it
may/june 2020	

increased to 27% in 2017, according to nationally developed
statistics. By 2017, a monocrystalline wafer cost approximately US$0.10 more than a polycrystalline one. Both prices
have fallen continuously during the past three years, with
polycrystalline-silicon wafers prices sliding from US$0.80/
piece (pc) at the beginning of 2016 to lower than US$0.30/pc
by the end of 2018.
In China, silicon wafer production reached 105.5 GW
in 2017, with a year-on-year growth rate of 39%. The wafer
industry is highly concentrated, with the top 10 companies
constituting 77% of the total national production. The country produces 83% of the world's output and has eight of the
top 10 global silicon wafer manufacturers. With the increase
in the world market share of monocrystalline products,
China's wafer manufacturers have expanded their production capacity.
Solar Cells and Modules

The solar cell manufacturing process is capital and technology intensive, requiring companies to use the latest techniques to improve efficiency. Higher solar cell conversion
efficiency and lower production costs improve market conditions for a manufacturer's power systems. Thus, PV cells'
conversion efficiency is a key driver of price competition
among solar cell companies.
Under the 12th Five-Year Plan, from 2011 to 2015, the
nation accelerated the development of its PV cell manufacturing technology, and its product quality greatly improved,
with product-commercialization efficiency increasing by
approximately 0.3-0.4% per year. In 2017, China's solar cell
production exceeded 68 GW, an annual increase of more
than 30%, constituting nearly 70% of the global total. Production costs have continued to decline as manufacturing
technology improves.
Solar cell-module manufacturing has short plant-construction periods, high technical and capital thresholds, and close
access to domestic markets. In 2017, China's solar module
production was approximately 75 GW, with an annual growth
rate of 43.4%, constituting 71% of the world's output. Better
PV product quality and reduced prices have been achieved
through production-technology improvements; declining
manufacturing costs; and increased automation, digitization,
and networking. The average 2015 price for crystalline silicon modules of approximately US$0.60/W dropped to lower
than US$0.25/W in 2018. Figure 2 shows the national production of polycrystalline silicon, silicon wafers, solar cells,
and solar cell modules from 2012 through 2017.
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2020

Contents
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2020 - Cover1
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2020 - Cover2
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2020 - Contents
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2020 - Cover3
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