China is the largest producer and exporter of silicon carbide in the world, according to a recent report available from Research and Markets, with capacity reaching 2.2 million tons (more than 80% of the global total). However, excessive capacity expansion and oversupply led to capacity utilization of less than 50%. In 2015, silicon carbide output in China totaled 1.02 million tons, with a capacity utilization rate of only 46.4%. Total output was estimated to be about 1.05 million tons in 2016, with a capacity utilization rate of 47.7%.
Since China’s silicon carbide export quota was abolished, the country’s silicon carbide export volume grew rapidly during 2013-2014 and tended to stabilize during 2015-2016. In 2016, China’s silicon carbide exports came to 321,500 tons, up 2.1% over 2015. During that time, Ningxia’s export volume amounted to 111,900 tons, accounting for 34.9% of the total exports and acting as a main silicon carbide exporter in China.
As China’s silicon carbide products are mainly low-end preliminarily processed products with moderate added value, the average price gap between export and import is enormous. In 2016, China’s silicon carbide exports had an average price of $0.90/kg, less than a quarter of the import average price ($4.30/kg).
In 2015, the global silicon carbide substrate market size reached about $111 million, while the size of the silicon carbide power devices sector reached about $175 million. Both segments are expected to see average annual growth rates of more than 20% in the next five years. At present, China has succeeded in research and development for semiconductor silicon carbide, realizing mass production of 2-, 3-, 4- and 6-in. silicon carbide monocrystalline substrates, silicon carbide epitaxial wafers, and silicon carbide components.