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Well-known member
Feb 13, 2005
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Wildwood New Jersey
Chinese Solar Boom a Boon for American Polysilicon Producers

It's an increasingly unusual situation for U.S. solar firms. In other stages of the supply chain—wafers, cells and modules—China has lured American companies with its scores of low-wage workers and bevy of government subsidies.

But cheap business costs have limits in high-tech sectors like polysilicon production, where quality and innovation are coveted. And it's one area where the United States enjoys a trade surplus, amounting to $2.3 billion last year for the crucial material, according to new figures released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research.

Over the past few decades, the United States has built a skilled labor force in making polysilicon—initially to create semiconductor wafers for computers and electronic products and now almost entirely for the solar industry. The country has also gained an edge in advanced equipment for making solar panel components.

"In polysilicon and capital equipment, the U.S. has still done quite well,"

"Right now, the solar manufacturers would prefer to use... our recycled silicon before using the Chinese prime."

SolarSilicon Recycling collects leftover poly and other silicon scraps that solar firms trash after they cut wafers and cells into shapes. It tests, cleans, upgrades and packages the materials at its Los Angeles area facility, and ships the second-generation solar feedstock to customers in the United States, Germany, China and across Asia.

U.S. Is Net Exporter

In 2010, the U.S. shipped about $870 million worth of polysilicon to China while importing just $4 million from the country

Innovation and capitalism at work...

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