Are Renewables Flat or Steady? We Look to Texas For the Answer

Last month we lamented the slow growth of both the US and international solar and wind power supply industries. While we can’t report a great one-month turnaround, renewables were flat as a board again this month, incremental progress seems to picking up steam in local markets both here and abroad.

Flat? Steady? You Make the Call

The monthly Renewables MMI® registered a value of 61 in April making its trend line look even more like the terse frown of a worried investor and proving that one man’s steady with March’s value is another man’s flat with March’s value.

While it might not be realistic to expect neodymium and solar silicon to trade into the higher ranges of our MMI reports, one would certainly think that increased adoption would lead to somewhat higher prices for mature technologies such as solar. While prices are not increasing for the base materials there were several positive stories about market-based solar technology adoption this month.

Texas Solar/Wind Power

In Texas, the city of Georgetown became the first city in the state to commit to receive its energy from 100% renewable sources by 2017.

In Georgetown, the city utility company has a monopoly and can choose the city’s provider like individuals elsewhere in Texas. When its staff examined their options last year, they discovered something that seemed remarkable, especially in Texas: renewable energy was cheaper than non-renewable. In February, city officials finalized a deal with SunEdison, a multinational solar energy company. It means that by January 2017, all electricity within the city’s service area will come from wind and solar power.

Last year Georgetown signed a 20-year agreement with EDF for wind power from a planned project near Amarillo, the deal with SunEdison takes the renewable elements of the city’s power supply up to 100%. SunEdison will build plants in west Texas that will provide Georgetown with 150 megawatts of solar power in a deal running from 2016 or 2017 to 2041.

India Solar

If a small city in Texas embracing renewables doesn’t convince you the needle is moving, then perhaps bigger government-supported projects in India are what’s needed to convince the skeptics.

In the build-up to India’s government-sponsored RE-Invest 2015 conference, participating companies provided non-binding investment indications of 166-gigawatts of solar power generation capacity and five-GW-per-year solar manufacturing capacity.

SunEdison and First Solar committed to build more than 20,000-megawatts of clean energy capacity in India by 2022. SunEdison said it would build 15,200 MW of solar and wind power capacity by 2022, while First Solar made a commitment to develop 5,000 MW of solar by 2019.

These projects are exactly the types of investments needed by governments to foster long-term solar power adoption and Georgetown’s plans to deal with intermittent wind power in Texas seem to be the right way to go about planning 100% renewable usage. We’ll be watching both closely to see if they can win over neighbors.

Actual Renewables Prices

* Get the complete prices every day on the MetalMiner IndX℠

At $65,292 per metric ton, the price of neodymium finished the month 2.5% higher. This was the second straight month of declines. US grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) rose 1.6% to $2,598 per metric ton after falling the previous month. The price of Chinese steel plate closed the month up 1.1% at $440.12 per metric ton.

US steel plate prices dropped by 7.1% this month to $644.00 per short ton. At $34,822 per metric ton, Chinese cobalt cathodes was down 3.6% for the month.

Prices for silicon remained constant this past month, holding at around $2,418 per metric ton. At a price of $477.86 per metric ton, Korean steel plate did not budge the entire month. The price of Japanese steel plate held steady around $666.50 per metric ton last month.

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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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