Renewables MMI® Up a Point, Silicon Solar Panel Trade War Not Letting Up

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Solar PV array

The monthly Renewables MMI® registered a value of 66 in August, up a point from July’s value. The ongoing trade fight between the US and China over crystalline silicon photovoltaic imports shows no signs of letting up. GTM research estimates the cost of Chinese solar panels could go up 14% as a result of the latest round of import duties on silicon from the US Commerce Department.

Instead of placing tariffs on imports of raw US silicon (so far), Beijing has looked inward to increase incentives for developers to purchase Chinese PVs and to encourage the developers to sell the power the panels generate back to utilities. The Chinese government recently released templates for long-term power purchase agreements for large solar power projects.


This template can be used by any project developer looking to sell solar power to state utilities. The government also issued a similar template for wind energy projects.

Under the policies, the National Energy Administration would call for local planners to add more projects in regions where electricity can be distributed to customers living nearby. Shares of Chinese solar manufacturers climbed on the news.

Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar also recently agreed to supply cadmium telluride thin-film modules to XSOL, a Japanese distributor of solar systems. First Solar says its cadmium telluride thin-film solar modules generate up to 8% more energy than conventional crystalline silicon solar modules and provide better energy yield in warmer climates. Success for the thin-film modules could significantly change the balance between silicon and cadmium as solar panel raw materials.

The announcement comes after First Solar, which makes solar panels and also builds large-scale solar power plants that it later sells, announced plans last year to invest $100 million to develop large solar projects in Japan. First Solar anticipates it could install up to 100 megawatts a year in Japan, and the deal enables First Solar’s thin film technology to be supplied to smaller-scale projects

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The price of Chinese cobalt cathodes rose 10.7 percent to $36,769 per metric ton after falling the previous month. At $871.00 per short ton, the price of US steel plate finished the month 0.6 percent higher. This was the second straight month of declines.

At $63,172 per metric ton, neodymium was down 3.7 percent for the month. Silicon closed the month at $2,268 per metric ton after dropping 1.8 percent. The value of Chinese steel plate weakened by 0.8 percent this month, settling at $583.12 per metric ton.

Last month was consistent for US grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES), which did not move from $3,112 per metric ton. The price of Korean steel plate held steady around $871.39 per metric ton last month. Hovering around $739.49 per metric ton for the month, Japanese steel plate remained unchanged.

The Renewables MMI® collects and weights 8 metal price points used extensively within the renewable energy industry to provide a unique view into renewable energy metal price trends over a 30-day period. For more information on the Renewables MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.

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