REC has today decided to establish its next silicon materials manufacturing expansion in Bécancour, Canada and has simultaneously signed agreements with Hydro Quebec, and Société du Parc industriel et portuaire de Bécancour. The agreements outline both the terms and conditions related to the development of a new production site and other commercial conditions.
“The development of this site will enable us to continue expansion of our silicon business in the most cost efficient manner and will consequently support REC’s further growth downstream as well as our ambitious long-term cost target”, says Erik Thorsen, President & CEO of REC.
The decision on Bécancour was made after a comprehensive 17 months’ process involving screening of more than 100 possible locations in 16 countries, followed by due diligence of close to 40 of them and finally negotiations with a few sites.
As the production of polysilicon is relatively energy intensive, one important reason for selecting Bécancour has been access to stable electricity supply based on long-term, predictable pricing. Additionally, REC is committed to limit the environmental impact of producing solar cells and panels, and therefore prefers electricity supply based on (non-carbon based) renewable energy sources.
As part of the arrangement with the Government of Quebec, REC will have a long term power contract with Hydro Quebec at a competitive industrial rate. The 20 year power contract will provide REC with long-term, clean, renewable power at a predictable cost in addition to other benefits offered by the world-class Société du Parc industriel et portuaire de Bécancour (SPIB). The agreement further assumes that total investments at the SPIB will exceed USD 1.2 billion and that the total number of employees will exceed 300 people.
REC intends to build future production capacities leveraging its latest technology including more advanced versions of the low cost, proprietary polycrystalline silicon deposition process based on fluidized bed reactors. Pre-engineering for the new plant will be concluded within the next six months, after which the decision on the definite size of the investment will be made. Current plans call for the site to be developed in several stages with total potential of four production units similar in size of the factory currently under completion in Moses Lake, Washington, USA. Total capacity will be brought on line in accordance with customer agreements and market conditions. Construction is anticipated to start in 2010 with Phase I production capacity available in 2012.
“We are pleased to select Bécancour as the preferred site for future silicon materials expansions. We look forward to a long and industrious relationship between REC and the people of Quebec. During the site selection and negotiation process, the Government of Quebec, particularly Investissement Quebec, has proven to be welcoming and encouraging. We also see great potential in the workforce and complimentary industries in the area”, says EVP Silicon, Gøran Bye