Quartz quality becoming crucial for the revolutionaries

While standard Siemens technology still dominates the market, technology innovations announced at the 8th solar silicon feedstock conference in Stuttgart 2010 may cut production costs to 30 USD per kilogramm in the next five years. Spot market prices will remain in the 50´s, slowly recovering by the end of 2011.
This price drop will become problematic for almost one third of the established silicon production, being equipped with high energy demanding standard Siemens reactors. However, alternative technologies such as FBR (fluid bed reactors) or UMG (upgraded metallurgical silicon) are still struggling to achieve standard quality goals, giving Dow Corning a push back to the pilot plant level in 2010.
A new trend in achieving highest efficiency by using 100% UMG has been shown by Calisolar. The full integration of UMG and cell manufacturing has the opportunity to adjust the cell design to the specifics of low cost UMG silicon, leading to successful results as shown by 6N taken over by Calisolar.
An estimated 25% share of silicon production by direct reduction technology (UMG / SolSilc) would count for 150.000 t of high purity quartz consumed in the solar silicon production, a multiple of today´s high purity quartz supply or 2/3 of todays high quality quartz world market. Since high purity quartz is the crucial ingredient during high quality UMG production only companies having a reliable integrated quartz source and quartz processing technology will be successful in long terms.