MOSES LAKE - After layoffs and cutbacks, REC Silicon in Moses Lake appears poised for a comeback after announcing that China has agreed to purchase polysilicon from the U.S. after a near six-year hiatus. China’s punishing trade war with the U.S. crippled the polysilicon industry after closing its market to U.S. polysilicon through severe tariffs that were implemented in 2014.
The stalemate between the two superpowers resulted in a massive reduction of staff and operational closures at REC’s Moses Lake plant.
Polysilicon is the building block for the semiconductor and solar industries. Polysilicon is the basic ingredient used to make ingots and wafers for solar cells and the integrated circuits that power smartphones, autonomous vehicles and electronics.
Administrators with the polysilicon plant says the benefit to manufacturers and workers will “depend on how China implements the agreement.”
The United States’ three remaining manufacturers of polysilicon thanked President Trump and other U.S. negotiators on Tuesday.
“It is really positive that the U.S. government has recognized the importance of the U.S. polysilicon industry. Being locked out of the global market for polysilicon for the last several years has cost the U.S. high-paying jobs and billions of dollars in investment,” said Tore Torvund, CEO & President of REC Silicon.
“While we hope that this partial restoration of access to China’s polysilicon market will improve the outlook for U.S. polysilicon producers, it’s imperative that the U.S. continues to focus on developing and strengthening critical links in the solar value and supply chains, providing a market for our polysilicon and other U.S. solar manufacturers here in the vibrant domestic U.S. solar market,” he added.
REC Silicon continues to operate its Butte, Montana plant as it awaits further trade agreement details.