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.
This week’s undoing of the TerraUSD algorithmic stablecoin and its sister token, Luna, has ramifications for all of crypto. First, there is the immediate impact: The rapid collapse of a once-popular pair of cryptocurrencies sent a ripple effect across the industry, contributing to plummeting coin prices that wiped hundreds of billions of market value from the digital-asset market and stoked worries over the potential fragility of digital-asset ventures. Then there are the knock-on effects. In addition to delivering punishing losses to individual users and investment firms, the spectacular failure of a market darling like Terra threatens to have a cooling effect
material SHORTAGE: Even as workers are about to return, Quanta lacks operating supplies, while Pegatron reported its lowest revenues in 11 quarters, the companies said Taiwan’s major Apple Inc supplier cut its outlook for the second quarter, joining a growing list of manufacturers warning about the fallout from lockdowns aimed at containing China’s worst COVID-19 outbreak in two years. Quanta Computer Inc (廣達電腦), which assembles MacBooks, expects a 20 percent quarterly fall in notebook shipments and a squeeze on margins this quarter due to the lockdown, a company representative said on Friday during an earnings call. The impact from supply chain disruptions could last until the end of the year, she said. The company’s Shanghai factory has been operating under tight restrictions since the middle of last month,
The US and the EU were yesterday to announce a joint effort aimed at identifying semiconductor supply disruptions as well as countering Russian disinformation, officials said. Top US officials are visiting the French scientific hub of Saclay for a meetup of the Trade and Technology Council, created last year as China increasingly exerts its technology clout. US officials acknowledged that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has broadened the council’s scope, but said the Western bloc still has its eye on competition from China. The two sides will announce an “early warning system” for semiconductors supply disruptions, hoping to avoid excessive competition between Western powers
Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車), which distributes Toyota and Lexus vehicles in Taiwan, yesterday introduced Toyota Motor Corp’s first all-electric sports utility vehicle (SUV), the bZ4X, joining rivals in vying for a share of the nation’s fast-growing electric vehicle market. Starting today, the bZ4X, with a price tag of NT$1.599 million (US$53,780), would be available for online purchase only and customers need to download a special app to place orders, Hotai said. Hotai has received 300 of the electric SUVs, it said, adding that it is not enough to meet robust market demand. A total of 229 electric vehicles were sold in the