Renewables/GOES MMI: US renewable energy electricity generation to double by 2050

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The Renewables Monthly Metals Index (MMI) rose by 4.4% this month, as the Energy Information Administration released a forecast on renewable energy.

February 2021 Renewables MMI chart

(Editor’s note: This report also includes the MMI for grain-oriented electrical steel, or GOES.)

Renewable energy growth in the US

renewables

ipopba/Adobe Stock

US electricity generation from renewable energy sources is forecast to double over the next 30 years, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Renewable energy sources accounted for 21% of US electricity generation in 2020.  The EIA forecasts that percentage will reach 42% by 2050.

The renewable energy increase will come on the back of declining coal and nuclear power usage, the EIA said. Furthermore, wind power will account for the majority of renewable energy gains until 2024.

After that period, however, solar power will take over the majority of the gains.

“After the production tax credit (PTC) for wind phases out at the end of 2024, solar generation will account for almost 80% of the increase in renewable generation through 2050,” the EIA said. “Based on the Internal Revenue Service safe harbor guidance, EIA assumes that utility-scale solar PV facilities will receive a 30% investment tax credit (ITC) through 2023, which will then be reduced to 10% beginning in 2024.”

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Glencore releases 2020 production results

Miner Glencore recently released its 2020 production results, reporting its own-sourced cobalt output fell by 41% to 27,400 tonnes in 2020.

However, the “successful ramp-up to design capacity levels” at Glencore’s Katanga operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo led to an increase of 6,200 tonnes of cobalt output.

In other metals relevant to renewable energy, Glencore reported own-sourced copper production fell 8% to 1.26 million tonnes.

Meanwhile, zinc production rose 9% to 1.17 million tonnes. On the other hand, nickel production fell 9% to 110,200 tonnes.

Glencore to supply ‘ethically sourced’ cobalt to FREYR

In other Glencore news, the miner announced it would supply up to 3,700 tonnes of high purity cobalt metal cut cathodes to FREYR.

The cathodes, featuring “ethically sourced” cobalt, would be produced at Glencore’s operations in Nikkelverk, Norway.

In turn, FREYR will use the cobalt for production of lithium-ion battery cells (also to be produced in Norway).

“We look forward to helping FREYR achieve its goal of producing batteries with the world’s lowest carbon content and contributing to our ambition of net-zero total emissions by 2050,” said Nico Paraskevas, Glencore’s head of copper and cobalt marketing.

Biden climate plan

President Joe Biden’s executive orders addressing the climate crisis will likely serve as a boost to metals demand.

In a boost to cleaner sources of energy, Biden rejoined the Paris climate accord. Furthermore, his executive order sets a goal of 2050 for a zet-zero emissions economy, which will likely boost demand for a variety of base metals, like copper, but also for rare earths, like neodymium (used in wind turbines).

Illustrating that philosophical shift toward a “clean energy economy,” Biden also revoked the Keystone XL pipeline permit.

“The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest,” a Jan. 20 executive order reads. “The United States and the world face a climate crisis.”

GOES

Meanwhile, the GOES MMI — the index tracking grain-oriented electrical steel — ticked down this month.

February 2021 GOES MMI chart

In addition, the grain-oriented electrical steel price fell 1.2% to $2,277 per metric ton.

Actual metals prices and trends

The Japanese steel plate price rose 1.5% month over month to $841 per metric ton. Meanwhile, the Korean steel plate price jumped 10.5% to $697 per metric ton.

In addition, the Chinese steel plate price fell 3.7% to $751 per metric ton.

US steel plate surged 21.1% to $983 per short ton.

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