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Solar cell material manufacturing plant for Saudi Arabia

Polysilicon Technology Co. (PST) signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract to set up a polysilicon plant in Jubail to manufacture solar-energy cell material.

PST is a joint venture between Mutajadedah Energy Co. (MEC) of Saudi Arabia and KCC Corp. of Korea (KCC). MEC is a local company owned by Swicorp Joussour Co. (SJC) and Chemical Development Co. (CDC), incorporated to invest across the solar energy value chain in Saudi Arabia.

The contract will cover Phase 1 of the plant with Hyundai Engineering Co., KCC Engineering and Construction Corp. The turn-key agreement is valued at US$380mn, reported Arab News. The initial plant, located in Jubail II, will produce 3,350 metric tonnes of solar grade polysilicon annually with future plans for expansion.

Polysilicon is the main raw material used in the solar industry which is then converted into ingot, wafers and then into solar cells that are put into panels in order to generate electricity from the sun.

"The polysilicon project in Jubail is only our first step. PTC intends to expand the plant to an annual capacity of 12,000 metric tonnes as well as continue further downstream into the manufacturing of ingots and wafers," said PST Executive Director and CEO Ibrahim Al-Humaidan.

MEC Executive Director Faysal Hamza said alternative energy is a new area of interest in the Middle East, which has gained recent attention due to the pressing need for economies to look toward diversified energy sources for future generations.

The agreement is also significant for the burgeoning manufacturing sector in the kingdom. As the former Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), Gov. Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki said: "The signing of this project is a fantastic opportunity to put Saudi Arabia at the heart of the solar energy development."