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REC Silicon moves closer to reopening in Moses Lake

by EMILY THORNTON
Assistant Managing Editor | November 23, 2021 1:05 AM

Silicon material producer REC Silicon may be getting closer to reopening in Moses Lake, according to a release Thursday from the company.

Sustainability company Aker Horizons Holding AS, REC Silicon, and photovoltaic manufacturer Hanwha Solutions Corporation entered into an agreement in which Hanwha and Aker each will own about 17% of the shares in REC, after share issues and purchases are complete — likely in the first quarter of 2022, the release stated.

The dealings “are expected to strengthen REC Silicon’s financial position and ensure that the company has the necessary resources to reopen its FBR facility in Moses Lake,” the release stated.

Tore Torvund, REC Silicon CEO, in July said restarting the Moses Lake facility would depend on securing customers for the company’s solar-grade silicon, either to make solar panels or as components for the next generation of rechargeable batteries.

REC’s Moses Lake production facility was shuttered several years ago following a lengthy trade dispute with China that prevented the company from selling its product to Chinese solar module and panel makers.

But the new share ownerships bring together two of the leading producers in different parts of the solar photovoltaic (PV) value chain, according to the release.

“Hanwha Solutions is one of the world’s leading solar PV manufacturers, with a total cell manufacturing capacity of 10 gigawatts globally,” the release stated. “The company provides high-quality solar PV panels to the residential market through its wholly owned brand Q CELLS, which holds a 25% market share in the US. The company operates one of the largest solar module factories in the U.S., with an annual production capacity of 1.7 gigawatts, corresponding to 12,000 PV modules per day.”

Aker Horizons “builds leading companies that can meaningfully reduce CO₂ emissions while creating substantial value over time,” its website stated. “Aker Horizons is majority-owned by Aker ASA, a Norwegian industrial investment group listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.”

Hanwha Solutions’ investment in REC Silicon is a step toward establishing “a highly efficient, low carbon solar value chain in the U.S. and to ensure that REC Silicon plays an integral role in these efforts,” according to the release. “Hanwha Solutions’ knowledge, expertise, and capabilities are expected to enhance REC Silicon’s ability to take advantage of opportunities and developing markets in the solar, semiconductor, and battery industries.”

The Solar Energy Manufacturing for America (SEMA) Act, being considered in the U.S. Congress, is targeted at encouraging investments in U.S. manufacturing capabilities. The passage of the legislation would support the parties’ ambitions to create a U.S. solar value chain, from production of polysilicon to fully assembled solar modules, the release stated..

“I am excited to report this first step in the creation of a low carbon solar value chain in the United States,” said Torvund in the release. “I expect this development to result in the restart of the Moses Lake FBR polysilicon manufacturing facility. This transaction aligns the interest of two large industrial shareholders and demonstrates their commitment to REC Silicon’s future. The anticipated passage of the SEMA Act represents an essential element in supporting the creation of a profitable and efficient solar value chain in the United States. REC Silicon is now well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Besides helping REC Silicon move closer to reopening its Moses Lake facility, the transactions “enable valuable investment opportunities in Butte, Montana,” the release stated.

Additionally, Hanwha Solutions leaders said they wanted representation with a board member on REC Silicon’s board of directors, and the proposal will be discussed at an upcoming meeting with company shareholders. Aker Horizons supports the proposal, and chairman of the board of directors, Kjell Inge Røkke, is planning to step down. Aker Horizons will propose Kristian Monsen Røkke be elected as chairman.

A notice of the meeting was to be issued for REC Silicon’s shareholders to consider the changes.