Renewables MMI®: Silicon Rises as Low Solar Energy Costs Increase Demand

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Solar PV array

In January 2015, Saudi Arabian company ACWA Power surprised industry analysts when it won a bid to build a 200-megawatt solar power plant in Dubai that will be able to produce electricity for 6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Why Manufacturers Need to Ditch Purchase Price Variance

That price was less than the cost of electricity from natural gas or coal-fired power plants, a first for a solar installation. Electricity from new natural gas and coal plants would cost an estimated 6.4 cents and 9.6 cents per kWh, respectively, according to the US Energy Information Agency.

Technological advances, including crystalline silicon-solar photovoltaic panels can now convert higher percentages of sunlight into energy and have made solar panels more efficient. As a result, we may be seeing a long-awaited rise in the price of silicon used for the panels, microchips and semiconductors. The week’s biggest mover on the weekly Renewables MMI® was the price of silicon, which saw a 7.4% increase.

Last week, manufacturer SolarCity began construction on a $900 million, 1 million-square foot PV panel factory in Buffalo, as well.

The week’s biggest mover on the weekly Renewables MMI® was the price of silicon, which saw a 7.4% increase to CNY 16,000 ($2,573) per metric ton. This comes on the heels of a 0.7% decline the week prior. Neodymium prices were off slightly at CNY 388,000 ($62,407) per metric ton, down from CNY 390,000 ($62,923) a week ago. The price of Chinese steel plate fell 0.4% over the past week to CNY 2,650 ($426.23) per metric ton. This was the fourth week in a row of declining prices. At CNY 220,000 ($35,385) per metric ton, the week finished with no movement for Chinese cobalt cathodes.

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Japanese steel plate prices held steady from the previous week at JPY 80,000 ($671.51) per metric ton. Prices for Korean steel plate remained constant, closing the week at KRW 510,000 ($470.50) per metric ton. The price of Chinese steel plate fell 0.4% over the past week to CNY 2,650 ($426.23) per metric ton. This was the fourth week in a row of declining prices. At $607.00 per short ton, the price of US steel plate did not change since the previous week.

For the fifth day in a row, US grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) remained essentially flat at $2,791 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. 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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