Renewable Energy Sector Metals Continue Flat Streak, Can’t Break Out

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The monthly Renewables MMI® registered a value of 62 in February, on par with January’s value.

FREE Download: Compare this month’s Renewable Energy MMI® Report to last month’s.

Renewable energy raw materials largely canceled each other out this month as some saw big gains and others big losses. The sector keeps holding around a low level of both production and consumption. While solar electricity generation is still on pace to be as cheap or cheaper than coal-fired electricity in the US market this year, the hurdles to adoption of weather and reliability are stubbornly persisting.

Renewables_Chart_February-2015_FNLA new argument about orientation of the roof-mounted panels has even opened up this month between home owners and their utilities in solar-strong California. A New York Times study of 110,000 California houses with rooftop solar systems showed that most homeowners are pointing them south to maximize home-used energy while their utility companies would prefer they be oriented westward to maximize peak hour generation.

On the policy front, President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget plan would pour billions of dollars into climate-change and renewable-energy technologies, and repeal nearly $50 billion in tax breaks for the oil, natural-gas and coal industries. It would also create a new $4 billion fund, dubbed the Clean Power State Initiative Fund, to help states comply with draft Environmental Protection Agency regulations cutting carbon emissions from US power plants.

This would be welcome news to the burgeoning renewables sector if it had a real chance of passing, but most in Washington agree that the budget proposal is merely an opening gambit in negotiations between Obama and the republican congress. There is little chance that what will eventually become the federal budget will resemble this program and cuts to oil, natural, gas and coal are practically unheard of in lobbyist-influenced Washington.

In the UK, reports suggest that windpower is not living up to projections for its contribution to the national grid. If the UK is to meet its European emissions controls it will have to get that power from some renewable source other than wind. Wind contributed just 0.573 GW, just over 1% of the total. In contrast, the Daily Telegraph reported that natural gas accounted for 42%, coal for 29%, nuclear for 16%, pumped storage and hydro for 5%, and interconnector imports for 5%.

We continue to wait on the policy or technology breakthrough that will significantly lift our renewables index.

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At $61,488 per metric ton, neodymium finished the month up 9.4%. Chinese cobalt cathodes rose 1.8% to $35,775 per metric ton.

Korean steel plate prices fell 38.9% to $500.16 per metric ton. A 15.1% drop over the past month left Chinese steel plate at $423.23 per metric ton. The price of US steel plate closed the month at $739.00 per short ton after dropping 8.9%. US grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) saw a small decline this month, falling from $2,688 to $2,657 per metric ton.

At a price of $2,396 per metric ton, silicon did not budge the entire month. Japanese steel plate traded sideways last month, staying around $680.32 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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