Research Report Analyzes Molybdenum Use in Energy and Electronics Markets

Rare Industrial Metal - Molybdenum

Research and Markets now offers a comprehensive research report titled ‘Molybdenum Markets in the Electronics and Solar Industries – 2011’ from NanoMarkets.

NanoMarkets has been offering research reports on various markets such as lighting, display and photovolatics materials for the past several years. In the new report, NanoMarkets discusses the way of operations of these markets and their major players. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the electronics and energy related markets wherein molybdenum is used. It also includes revenue forecast for eight years.

In recent years, molybdenum has found new opportunities in the growth-oriented electronics and energy markets. Especially, the material has a significant share as an electrode material in the market for CIGS solar panels. This is one-of-its-kind report that discusses the market for molybdenum exclusively in the growth-oriented energy and electronics markets.

According to NanoMarkets, since molybdenum demonstrates strong adhesion to active layers and substrates, its usage in the solar panel market will increase continuously. The report predicts that molybdenum finds a huge prospect in the fast growing CdTe segment. Besides being used in the solar market, molybdenum finds interesting applications in OLED electrodes. The material has a bright future in other sectors such as related to display and lighting.

In the electronics industry, molybdenum has been used in conventional applications such as in magnetrons and in x-ray system components. Due to its high price, the material is used in combination with low cost materials such as aluminum in most of its applications.

By: Cameron Chai

China Now Controls the Solar Industry

Solar Panels

Recently American solar companies like Solyndra, Evergreen Solar and Spectrawatt have filed for bankruptcy. These events may lead investors to believe that Solar is finished.

The US solar industry was hit hard by announcements out of Europe that some nations, like Italy, were scaling back their expenditures on solar due to their debt crisis. At the same time we have nations like India announcing a US $19 billion plan to produce 20GW of solar power by the year 2020.

Where will the solar panels for this market be manufactured?

India does not have sufficient rare industrial metal inventories or rare earth metal production to meet the demands of the government plan.

China has positioned itself as the country with 97% control over the majority of rare industrial metals and rare earth metals needed to produce high efficiency solar panels.

What does this mean for companies producing solar panels?

Among many other reasons for restricting exports of rare metals, China wants companies to produce the products in China to keep its workforce employed. If companies want to import metals from China in to produce the panels in other nations they will have to pay much higher prices for the metals due to taxes, shipping, export costs and other import costs. Accordingly, The US manufacturers will have a difficult time competing with the manufacturers in China.

The other issue that the companies do not want to talk about is government subsidies and tax breaks. Jason Burack the co-author of the, ¨Dragon Metals Report¨, and owner of recently said, ¨Message to all CEOs in solar, “Switch immediately to the best Solar panel technology using materials like rare earths, rare industrial metals and graphene and stop relying on the government for subsidies to produce inferior technology panels the market does not want, also a successful long term business model for any company should not be to rely on getting all of your revenue and contracts from the government, which is what many solar companies have done¨.

There are three, ¨Thin-Film PV¨ kinds of solar panels.

1. CdTe or Cadmium Telluride with an efficiency of 6%-11%.

2. a-Si or Amorphous Silicon with an efficiency of 6%-12%

3. CIGS or Copper Indium Gallium Selenide with an efficiency of 10%-20%

CIGS Advantages:

A. Highest energy yield

B. No environmentally hazardous materials

C. You can mold the panels to fit many applications

D. They can possibly bring the cost of solar energy panels down to below $1 per watt.

 The other technology on the horizon is graphene composite solar panels. They are made of copper, molybdenum and graphite. Molybdenum and graphite have both been deemed highly critical to national security for many nations. Once again China has a powerful position because they control over 80% of the graphite market. So once again China has the foresight to see the technologies on the horizon and has positioned itself to prosper.

Currently 89% of the total installed solar panels worldwide are located in Germany, Japan and the USA. In the coming years we will see a growing demand from China for its own solar needs. Between China and India the demand for solar panels will far exceed our current ability to produce the panels. The costs of solar are coming down and the closer we are to grid parity, the more use of solar we will see. Since many of the metals used to produce these panels have been deemed critical to many nations national security, the prices of these metals are bound to stay elevated. China has shown that it will continue to restrict the exports of the rare industrial and rare earth metals further tightening the supply chains.

By: Randy Hilarski - The Rare Metals Guy

Are Molybdenum Prices On Their Way Down And Out?

China, as the world’s largest steel producer, is the world’s largest consumer of molybdenum. China is also the world’s largest moly-producing country (although North America is the largest producing region). According to the International Molybdenum Association, use of molybdenum in transportation, power generation, building and construction will likely increase by 6 percent each year through 2019. This view was shared by Roskill last year, who saw under-investment in molybdenum projects in 2009 and 2010 having consequences for supply as far ahead as 2015. So if demand is strong and supply is constrained, why have prices fallen this year, and could the predicted long-term price / demand trend be at risk?

One-year look at molybdenum stocks. Source: LME

Iron ore demand and steel production in the world’s largest steel market, China, have remained strong this year, yet molybdenum imports have not kept pace. As an article in the Tex Report states, the Chinese Iron and Steel Association (CISA) released data showing that steel production in September was up 3.1 percent from August.

The total annualized run rate of production is over 700 million tons, compared year-over-year with 2010, when China produced just over 550 million tons. The global steel production growth rate stands at 9.8 percent, although recent numbers suggest a distinct softening everywhere except Asia. China, however, has been pushing 13.8 percent this year. The continued strength of steel production in China would suggest that molybdenum, an essential in high-strength steel production, would also be equally well supported. But as the table below shows, China has swung to becoming a net exporter of moly oxide.

Source: The TEX Report

Although June and July saw imports exceed exports as domestic mines in China are brought on-stream, it is expected that China will increasingly seek to rely on domestic molybdenum concentrate supply rather than imports, resulting in ongoing pressure on prices. Molybdenum has fallen to below $14/lb, and unless Chinese merchants decide to step back into the market to opportunistically import, global demand is likely to remain bereft of Chinese buying.

While domestic prices have followed the global trend in broad terms, this graph of ferro-moly prices in China taken from the MetalMiner IndX shows they have not been as volatile:

Domestic China Ferro Moly Price

With slowing demand in China inevitably feeding through into slowing steel growth, the chances of China resuming imports on a consistent basis looks unlikely. Good news for moly consumers in the West, who were harboring concerns earlier that supply constraints would prompt a return to higher prices next year.

by Stuart Burns