Fragile Renewables Sector Takes a Hit as Silicon Still Can’t Break Out

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The monthly Renewables MMI® registered a value of 64 in November, a decrease of 3% from 66 in October.

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Silicon solar photovoltaic panel-generated electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than the average electricity-bill prices in 47 US states by 2016, according to a Deutsche Bank report published this week. That’s assuming the US government maintains its 30% tax credit on system costs, which is set to expire in 2016. That tax credit becomes more and more important to the fledgling market for renewable raw materials as tariffs on products such as cheap Chinese solar panels raise prices for end-consumers.


Solar has already reached grid parity in 10 states that are responsible for 90% of US solar electricity production. In those states alone, installed capacity growth will increase as much as sixfold over the next 3 to 4 years, Deutsche Bank analyst Vishal Shaw wrote.

Why Not Higher Prices?

So, if solar is really booming so much and tariffs are protecting producers of US panels, why hasn’t the cost of silicon for use in the PVs shot up? A new report by Bernreuter Research predicts the spot price for polysilicon will rise due to PV industry demand before dropping at the end of the year, but if use in really increasing so much shouldn’t they have already gone up?

My colleague, Editor-At-Large Stuart Burns, points outs that intermittence is still a problem. The tax supports are also distorting the market as costs are still not truly aligned to the cost of raw materials. While most argue for keeping the tax credits to promote the industry, solar adoption may be mature enough to withstand higher prices. Try our forecasting service for more on the price of silicon and other renewables. We’ll tell you when to buy and when not to.

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US grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) prices fell 12.1% to $2,620 per metric ton after rising the previous month. After falling 4.9%, Chinese steel plate finished the month at $538.93 per metric ton. A 4.8% drop over the past month left neodymium at $58,127 per metric ton. US steel plate fell 2.2% to $850.00 per short ton.

Chinese cobalt cathodes held pat last month at $37,611 per metric ton. At a price of $2,263 per metric ton, silicon did not budge the entire month. Hovering around $841.98 per metric ton for the month, Korean steel plate remained unchanged. Last month was consistent for Japanese steel plate, which did not move from $698.06 per metric ton.

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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