Solar power’s rare year of rising costs may get worse thanks to China’s power crisis.
The price of silicon, used to make the material that comprises solar panels, has surged about 300 percent since the start of August after a top-producing province ordered production be slashed amid a power crunch. China dominates global solar production, with its coal generators powering many of the factories that make clean energy equipment.
The move could further fracture the global supply chain that has already been upended by geopolitics, with the US detaining some Chinese imports earlier this year for alleged labor abuses in the nation’s Xinjiang region. It all points to higher prices for solar panels.
“It is yet another excuse for polysilicon makers to increase the price, and the pricing environment for solar modules is very nervous at the moment,” solar power researcher Jenny Chase said.
Until this summer, silicon had a rather innocuous history. Made by heating common sand and coke in a furnace, prices ranged between US$1 and US$2.50 per kilogram from 2003 until August. That is when Yunnan Province, one of the top production hubs, announced that as part of its efforts to meet energy targets, production of the metal from last month to December would be cut by 90 percent from August levels.
Silicon is purchased by companies that use caustic chemicals and intense heat to purify it into polysilicon, an ultra-conductive material that helps convert sunlight into electricity in photovoltaic panels.
The price of solar-grade polysilicon jumped 13 percent to US$32.62 a kilogram on Wednesday, the highest since 2011. The material is up more than 400 percent since the start of June last year as soaring solar demand pushed processing plants to capacity.
The impact on solar panels should be smaller. Daiwa Capital Markets analyst Dennis Ip said that panels would rise from from 1.8 yuan (US$0.28) per watt to as much as 2 yuan, bringing them back to mid-2019 prices. Regardless, that could be enough to delay some solar projects as developers wait for prices to fall.
“Solar installations this year are expected to be lower than expectations,” Ip said.
UNSTABLE? Downplaying geopolitical concerns, Mark Liu said that Taiwan can help usher in a bright, new era for the chip industry with its tech and manufacturing skills There are probably not many people who believe that Taiwan is unstable because of geopolitical factors, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) chairman Mark Liu (劉德音) said yesterday in Taipei in response to comments by Intel’s top executive. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger on Wednesday told the Fortune Brainstorm Tech summit in California that the US government should support a sustainable semiconductor supply chain in the US, in part because “Taiwan is not a stable place.” With China sending 27 military warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Sunday, Gelsinger asked: Does that “make you more comfortable or less if you’re now
‘OUT IN FRONT’: The new investment is part of MediaTek’s bid to expand revenue by 15 percent over the next three years from an estimated US$17 billion this year MediaTek Inc (聯發科) is to continue investing in the development of low-power technologies to maintain its leading position in the industry over the next 10 years, the Hsinchu-based chip designer said yesterday. This year, it would allocate US$3.3 billion to the research and development of technologies related to high-performance computing, low power and advanced chip packaging, MediaTek said. The investment is part of the chip designer’s efforts to enhance its technological capabilities and boost revenue. MediaTek aims to expand revenue by about 15 percent over the next three years from an estimated US$17 billion this year. “We are definitely out in front of
PharmaEssentia Corp (藥華醫藥) shares have jumped 80.56 percent since the company obtained a US polycythemia vera (PV) drug license for its new interferon drug Besremi (ropeginterferon alfa-2b-njft) on Nov. 12. Shares on Friday closed at NT$195 in Taipei trading, up from the stock’s closing price of NT$108 on Nov. 12. PV is a rare, chronic and life-threatening blood cancer linked to a stem cell mutation in the bone marrow that results in an overproduction of blood cells and places sufferers at risk of having a blood clot, stroke or heart attack. PharmaEssentia is preparing to make Besremi available in the US in the
The US$410 DeliSofter pot looks much like the rice cookers ubiquitous in Japanese households and it does prepare rice in 24 minutes. However, this invention of two Panasonic Corp engineers is designed to do more and help people with swallowing difficulties. The two women led the creation of a spin-off company, Gifmo Co, to sell the specialized steam cooker, which they say can turn fried chicken soft enough to be sliced with a potato chip. The machine works by first cutting into food with a series of blades and then subjecting it to extremely high pressure at a temperature of 120°C,