Monday, May 7, 2012

Solar Silicon Falling 9% Widens Slump That Hit Solyndra

Polysilicon, the raw material used to make most solar panels, is forecast to fall another 9 percent from its lowest in a decade as a supply glut narrows margins throughout the industry.
Polysilicon accounts for a quarter of the cost of solar panels.

The average spot price of the material will finish this year at about $22.10 a kilogram, according to the median of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The price, which four years ago topped $475, tumbled about 70 percent in the 12 months to $24.27 on April 16, the lowest since at least 2002.

The drop hurts most for poly manufacturers led by Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. and Wacker Chemie AG. (WCH) It may ease pressure on margins at panel makers such as Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP) and LDK Solar Co. (LDK), which were unprofitable last year. The result is expanding a shakeout that bankrupted at least eight companies including Solyndra LLC last year.

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