The demand for energy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has sharply increased with substantial population growth in recent decades. The government of Saudi Arabia has placed a high priority on taking action to increase the capacity of existing energy plants, increasing energy efficiency and providing incentive for development of sustainable energy technology in the Kingdom. In support of these initiatives, Saudi authorities have provided significant support for the Idea Polysilicon Plant, a ground-breaking success story in the achievement of these vital objectives.
One of the largest polysilicon and wafer plants to become operational in one phase, the Idea Polysilicon Plant will start production at 10,000 tons per year of polysilicon and 800 MW of wafers. Harnessing the power of economy of scale with cutting-edge technology in a cost-effective location is propelling the project to global leadership.
The Idea Polysilicon Plant will produce solar wafers capable of replacing 100,000 barrels of oil, that are currently used as fuel for local power plants, significantly increasing oil available for export. In addition, each kilogram of polysilicon solar cells produced will generate sufficient clean energy to decrease carbon emissions by 2.5 tons. The polysilicon produced will generate 2GW of clean power annually. The wafers produced are sufficient for the 16GW PV power anticipated by Saudi Arabia through 2032. The impact of this project will no doubt contribute to Saudi Arabia recognition as “The Sustainable Energy Kingdom.”
In addition to these substantial benefits to the environment and local economy, the project will also provide hundreds of skill-based employment opportunities for Saudi Arabian youth population which is facing an employment shortage. As the project grows, it will expand into related industries such as metal grade silicon, cells, modules, PV systems, and PV components, creating an entire value chain driving substantial economic growth.
On a global scale, the extraordinary efficiency of the Idea Polysilicon Plant will cause an overhaul of existing cost structures and industry design standards. Because these plants have historically served only small capacity electronics industry projects, they have been small-scale and energy intensive, incurred high production costs. The Idea Polysilicon Plant, with its single-train large-scale reactors and purification systems, has optimal CAPEX and OPEX standing. Its power consumption does not exceed 80KWH per kg of polysilicon, less than half of the average consumption of most existing plants.
In addition to the production of solar grade silicon, the Idea Polysilicon Plant will also produce electronic grade silicon. This production capacity will enable the region to be part of the next era of electronic components and high-tech industrialization.
In consideration of the urgent need for alternative energy sources in the Kingdom, the Idea Polysilicon Plant plans to aggressively expand its capabilities to reach production capacity of 40,000 tons per year by 2022. It further intends to develop complete value chain integration from metal grade silicon to PV system installation. International partnerships with global leaders and strategic agreements with regional entrepreneurs are already under development.
To maintain its status as low-cost leader, the Idea Polysilicon Plant is committed to continual cost reduction through adoption of new technology. An example of the impact of technology on production cost includes integrating large scale fluidized bed reactors for deposition of silicon. These reactors have the potential to considerably reduce power consumption while providing a continuous operation advantage.
The PV industry is undergoing significant consolidation and it is evident that future leaders of the industry are ones that have the proper fundamentals: cost-leadership, quality advantage, global presence, value chain integration, technology and business innovation, and focused market strategies. The Idea Polysilicon Plant has mastered these qualities and is prepared to provide renewable energy as an industry leader for many decades to come.
In addition to Saudi government funds, shares of the Idea Polysilicon Plant are owned by several business groups in Saudi Arabia and the GCC. Chairman of the Board, Mr. Marwan Al-Ghurair, has led the project’s development since 2009. The Idea Polysilicon Plant is expected to start production in the last quarter of 2014.