. Solar Energy News .

Sun shines on the Silicon Market
by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Jun 20, 2011

In 2010, solar photovoltaics were generating electricity in more than 100 countries, and are the fastest growing power-generation technology in the world.

The major recent development in the silicon industry is the tripling of demand for solar grade polysilicon, with the expectation that the quantity used in solar photovoltaic (PV) modules will start to rival that in the high volume silicon markets within a few years. Furthermore, high value solar grade silicon allows much higher profit margins than the bulk markets.

Silicon recovering from the impact of the global recession
After contracting sharply in 2009, global demand for both silicon and ferrosilicon recovered in 2010 to about 1.8Mt and 7.4Mt (gross wt) respectively. In 2010, China was the largest consumer of silicon products, due primarily to growing demand for steel and aluminium products.

World production of silicon metal increased from about 1.1Mt in 2001 to 1.76Mt in 2010, mainly because of increasing Chinese output. Silicon metal was produced in fifteen countries in 2010, and Chinese production accounted for about 46% of the world total.

Mainly because of over capacity in China, some of which is used seasonally, world silicon production capacity is about two third utilised.

World production of ferrosilicon in 31 countries totalled about 7.1Mt in 2010, recovering from 6.1Mt in 2009.

Aluminium and steel still largest end-uses for silicon and ferrosilicon
The main markets for silicon metal in 2010 were as an alloying element with aluminium (45%), in silicone and silane chemicals (35%) and PV (12%). The market for ferrosilicon is largely in steel (85%) and cast iron (15%), with very small amounts used in non-ferrous alloys, dense media and other applications.

Although most aluminium products and components contain some silicon, the bulk is added to cast aluminium used in automobile engine components. Cast aluminium alloys contain up to 23%Si, and typically 7%Si, and account for over 80% of silicon metal consumption in aluminium alloys.

Most silicon consumed by steel makers is in the form of 50%Si and 75%Si grade ferrosilicon, with 75%Si grade prevailing. The term 'silicon steels' generally refers to those carbon steels containing above 0.4%Si.

Silicon market outlook bright due to solar cells
In 2010, solar photovoltaics were generating electricity in more than 100 countries, and are the fastest growing power-generation technology in the world. Grid connected solar capacity was about 30GW at the beginning of 2011, still a tiny fraction of the 5TW (terawatt) of total global power-generating capacity. Between 2004 and 2010, grid-connected solar capacity increased at an annual average rate of 60%. Off-grid solar installations account for about an additional 4GW.

Driven by advances in technology and scale, the cost of solar power installations has declined steadily, and financial incentives, such as preferential feed-in tariffs for solar-generated electricity and government subsidies for new installations, have supported solar installations in many countries.

As costs of both producing solar grade silicon and generating solar energy fall, demand for silicon will rise. As the solar energy market expands and matures, growth rates of 50% to 60%py will become less common, but in the period up to 2015, an average growth rate in demand for silicon of 20%py is likely, resulting in a market of about 535kt.

Although demand for silicon in solar energy will increase sharply, we expect the largest end-uses for silicon metal and ferrosilicon to remain in aluminium and steel, respectively.

Growth in demand for silicon as an alloying element in aluminium will continue to depend largely on the use of cast aluminium components by the world's automobile industries.

Increased global demand for all forms of silicon-bearing aluminium alloy in the medium term will largely depend on the expansion of Asian economies, as automobile production, electrification and construction grow. As a result of this expected demand, silicon consumption in aluminium alloys is expected to grow by around 5% per year over the next five years.

Demand for ferrosilicon in steel will be driven by rising steel production in emerging markets, particularly in the BRIC countries, with total world crude steel production forecast to grow by an annual average rate of 5-6% through to 2015.

Although falling sharply in 2009, silicon prices have reacted strongly over the latter half of 2010 and early 2011, getting back to the record levels seen in early 2008 In the longer term, assisted by anti-dumping duties in both the USA and Europe and high power costs in China, there appears to be no reason why silicon prices should not remain above US$3,000/t, possibly moving towards US$4,000/t from 2013 onwards.

Related Links
All About Solar Energy at SolarDaily.com

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Arise Solar's new solar for Tresor Family Apartments
Clovis CA (SPX) Jun 20, 2011
Glenn Siemens, President of Arise Solar based in Clovis, California recently announced the completion of a new solar installation for PacWest Builders and their Tresor Family Apartments in Salinas, CA. Arise Solar is installing solar modules for PacWest in other California cities. The Tresor Family Apartments solar installation includes 270 MAGE Solar modules that will produce 41.59 AC-kW ... read more

New biofuel sustainability assessment tool and GHG calculator released

ORNL neutrons, simulations reveal details of bioenergy barrier

Iowa State hybrid lab combines technologies to make biorenewable fuels and products

First wood-digesting enzyme found in bacteria could boost biofuel production

Genius of Einstein, Fourier key to new humanlike computer vision

Industry Helps Engineering Students Reanimate Robotic Mine Vehicles

The hand as a joystick

Guide vests robotic navigation aids for the visually impaired

PSC Allows Installation of Largest Land-Based Wind Turbines in NY

Olympic Steel Installs Wind Turbine

Siemens unveils wind turbine prototype

German port's future blowing in the wind

HALL Wines Installs ECOtality's Blink EV Charging Station

Japan's Mazda eyes return to profit, Mexico plant

Toyota optimistic on restoring American production

Chinese firms set to take majority control of Saab

Improving LED lighting

Venstar Thermostat Saves Energy by Automatically Controlling HVAC Systems

Vietnamese hold anti-China rally amid sea spat

New insights on an old material will enable design of better polymer batteries, water purification

Building 2D graphene metamaterials and 1-atom-thick optical devices

Singapore researchers invent broadband graphene polarizer

Iowa State physicists explain the long, useful lifetime of carbon-14

New form of girl's best friend is lighter than ever

Population growth spurs surge to Asia's cities

China prepares for summer power crisis

The Energy Debate Coal Versus Nuclear

Significant Jobs and Economic Development Relative to New Transmission

Euro ministers to seek forests agreement

Integrating agriculture and forestry in the landscape is key to REDD

Landless workers protest Amazon killings

WWF says Croatia is destroying 'Europe's Amazon'

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement