Breaking: Explosions at GCL polysilicon fab have reportedly taken down 10% of global production capacity

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Reports are emerging of a series of flash explosions at a GCL Silicon polysilicon plant which has reportedly taken more than 10% of the global supply of the solar power raw material out of production.

California-based investment banking group Roth Capital Partners yesterday issued an advisory note about the explosions at the GCL facility in Xinjiang China and their potential effect on the global polysilicon price during a period when supplies of mono-grade material are already low.

Roth cited reports of four flash explosions at the GCL facility on Sunday followed by a fifth yesterday and suggested overpressure in the rectification and boron removal filter may have led to leakage of trichlorosilane gas, which can react explosively with moisture in the air.

The explosions are reported to have occurred during equipment maintenance at the facility and are said to have taken 50 MT of polysilicon production capacity offline.

Offline

An investigation of the incident is understood to be under way and Roth estimated the facility could be offline for 3-6 months “at a minimum,” with the investigation required by the authorities typically taking at least four months to conduct before repair work can begin.

Cooper Chen, a senior analyst at Taiwan-based market observer PV InfoLink told pv magazine there would be no polysilicon production at the site this quarter as a result of the incident.

Although the Roth update mentioned a possible beneficial effect for poly-manufacturing rival Daqo, GCL’s fellow Chinese producer has also suffered a recent setback, with a small fire at one of its sites on July 1.

That incident, according to a note issued by Roth on July 7, was expected to halt production at the 6,000 MT facility – identified as a 5,000-ton line which can produce 400-500 MT per month by PVInfoLink’s Chen – for a month or two. That prediction would see Daqo lose around 1% of its expected annual output – 500-1,000 MT. Roth estimated the affected Daqo facility accounts for a further 1-2% of global polysilicon capacity being offline at present.

Neither Roth nor PVInfoLInk has reported details of any casualties as a result of either incident.