Silicon Metal (also known as industrial silicon) is a kind of industrial silicon extracted from quartz stone (silicon dioxide), which can be widely used in electronics, optical fiber, solar energy products, construction, medical treatment, chemical industry, machinery, metallurgy, rubber and insulating materials, high-temperature resistant coatings and other industrial and civil aspects.
It can be said that silicon is an indispensable raw material for solar energy products and an energy substitute for coal and petroleum. According to the British “Metal Herald” report: In the future, the world’s silicon metal consumption will grow at an average annual rate of more than 3.9%. Western countries such as Japan and the United States are big silicon consumers, while my country is a big producer and exporter of industrial silicon. At present, although there are more than 300 production enterprises in my country, most of them are small electric furnaces below 6300KVA, with high energy consumption and low efficiency. There are only a dozen enterprises with a production capacity of more than 20,000 tons.
Before the 1990s, people’s attention to mineral resources was mainly concentrated on rare metals, non-ferrous metals, coal, and building materials.
With the development of industry and technology, the wide application of materials such as semiconductors, solar energy, and synthetic metals has gradually increased the demand for industrial silicon, especially the demand for silicon-aluminum alloys, concrete, and fireproof materials for hard glass processing.
At present, the annual demand for industrial silicon exceeds 1.2 million tons, and the export volume exceeds 600,000 tons, while China’s annual production capacity is less than 1 million tons, and most of them are produced by small private enterprises. In addition, affected by factors such as electricity prices, the actual output is less than 800,000 tons, and most of the high-purity polysilicon still relies on imports (South Korea imports industrial silicon from my country, refines it into 99.9999% polysilicon and exports it to us).
In the “2007 Sino-Japanese Symposium on Circular Economy and Sustainable Development”, Professor Chang Jinming, director of China Optoelectronics Technology Development Center, said that although China’s solar photovoltaic industry is developing rapidly, it will still face the shortage of silicon materials.
Since 2004, driven by the German photovoltaic market, the solar photovoltaic industry has shown extraordinary development, and the market capacity has expanded rapidly. In 2006, the global output of photovoltaic cells increased by 42%, driving the rapid growth of demand for polysilicon raw materials.
During this period, the direct supply price of high-grade solar-grade silicon materials has increased by 2-5 times, and the market purchase price has increased by about 8-10 times. Due to the large investment and long construction period of the silicon raw material industry, it will take a long time to realize the currently planned production capacity. Therefore, the current shortage of silicon raw materials will continue for several years.