Polycrystalline silicon, commonly known as polysilicon, was the United States' largest solar energy export product in 2010.
The U.S. contributed approximately 25 percent, or 37,713 metric tons, to the global polysilicon supply, second only to China, which produced 33 percent, or 49,691 metric tons. A strong domestic polysilicon manufacturing base and the near-absence of domestic wafer producers led the U.S. to maintain a positive polysilicon trade flow of $2.37 billion, up 125 percent year-over-year from $1.16 billion in 2009.
Large amounts of polysilicon are produced domestically; however, very little polysilicon is consumed in the U.S. As such, there is little or no need to import polysilicon. The U.S.’s primary polysilicon export locations correspond to global photovoltaic manufacturing bases. China, including Taiwan, was the number one destination for U.S. polysilicon, with $873 million in exports. Though a few large Chinese manufacturing firms, including Renesola and LDK, are fully vertically integrated, the majority of these companies must purchase their polysilicon feedstock through contracts or on the spot market.
Other key polysilicon export locations include Japan ($690 million), Norway ($258 million), and Germany ($245 million).