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What you need to know about polysilicon and its role in solar modules

What is polysilicon, what is its role in solar panels and are there any social and governance concerns around its production? Here is a primer.   Polysilicon,…

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This article was originally published by BNP Paribas Asset Managment Blog ( Investor's Corner)

What is polysilicon,
what is its role in solar panels and are there any social and governance
concerns around its production? Here is a primer.
 

Polysilicon, a high-purity form of silicon, is a key raw material in the solar photovoltaic (PV) supply chain. To produce solar modules, polysilicon is melted at high temperatures to form ingots, which are then sliced into wafers and processed into solar cells and solar modules.

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021

How polysilicon is manufactured

Three are three main technologies to produce polysilicon.

The ‘modified Siemens process’ is currently the dominant
technology in China. Trichlorosilane (TCS) is produced using two readily
available metallurgical-grade silicon (of 95-99% purity) and liquid chlorine.

After being purified through distillation, the TCS is
vaporised and mixed with hydrogen gas. In a deposition reactor, silicon slim
rods are heated up to 1 100C and the passing of the gas mixture results in
high-purity silicon being deposited on the surface of the rods. This process
continues until a certain diameter (typically 150-200mm) is achieved.

Fluidised bed reactor process (FBR) and the upgraded
metallurgical-grade silicon process (UMG) are the other two technologies. 

  • FBR uses significantly less electricity with a
    higher conversion rate by using silicon seed particles instead of silicon rods.
    It is a less mature technology and only a few polysilicon producers currently
    use it in some of their plants. [1]
  • UMG uses physical methods to extract impurities
    directly from the silicon metal instead of chemical processes, which reduces
    energy usage. [2] However, silicon produced using UMG does not have as high
    purity as the other two methods do and therefore is not widely used. 

Recent market trends in the polysilicon industry

The polysilicon industry has increasingly consolidated, with
the top-five companies accounting for 73% of global production in 2020 compared
to 60% in 2017, according to BNEF. This is mainly due to a number of
companies shutting down capacities in recent years after a period of
overcapacity. These companies could not compete with low-cost producers that
have greater scale and efficiencies in a low-price environment.

In addition, China imposed tariffs on polysilicon imports.
This benefited local producers who already had a cost advantage compared to
international peers. China accounted for 77% of global polysilicon production
in 2020. Manufacturing takes place mostly in Xinjiang, Yunnan or Sichuan where
electricity is cheaper lower and the raw material is close by.

After supply chain disruptions led to higher polysilicon
prices in Q3 2020, prices have risen significantly further since the start of
2021 due to market tightness.

In anticipation of strong demand – solar installation is
forecast to increase by 15% a year for the next three years (according to BNEF)
– downstream wafer companies boosted capacity by 45% in 2020.

This growing demand from wafer companies that use
polysilicon to make wafers has created a supply-demand imbalance. One producer
expects supply to remain tight until the middle of 2022, when new capacity is
expected to come on stream.

What about labour practices in China?

 InJune
2021, the US Customs and Border Protection issued a ‘withhold release order’ targeting a major
supplier of metallurgical silicon powder over allegations that it used forced labour.
[3] Enforcement will likely be through downstream companies which this supplier
sells to. This could detail cargoes into the US until the supply chain source
is clear.

However, since the US accounts for less than 2% of mainland
China’s solar PV exports (average in the last three years), we believe local
companies can leverage manufacturing plants outside of Xinjiang, where this
major supplier is located, to serve the US market.

Separately, the US blacklisted other Chinese companies that it
said were involved in human rights violations in Xinjiang. At least some of the
companies listed by the Commerce Department are major manufacturers of
monocrystalline silicon and polysilicon that are used in solar panel
production.

A potential market impact could be a further tightening of
the polysilicon market, especially if a premium emerges for polysilicon sourced
outside of Xinjiang, which is a low-cost producing region due to its low
electricity costs. This could cause polysilicon prices to rise and hold at
higher levels. Costs for module manufacturers could increase as they have to
demonstrate their supply chain audit trail.

[1] REC Silicon, 2021 https://www.recsilicon.com/technology/rec-silicons-fluidized-bed-reactor-process/  

[2] Source: Bernreuter Research, 2021 https://www.bernreuter.com/polysilicon/production-processes/  

[3] From the CBP statement: “This Withhold Release Order
demonstrates we continue to protect human rights and international labor
standards and promote a more fair and competitive global marketplace by
fulfilling the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ending forced
labor.” 


Any views expressed
here are those of the author as of the date of publication, are based on
available information, and are subject to change without notice. Individual
portfolio management teams may hold different views and may take different
investment decisions for different clients. The views expressed in this podcast
do not in any way constitute investment advice.

The value of
investments and the income they generate may go down as well as up and it is
possible that investors will not recover their initial outlay. Past performance
is no guarantee for future returns.

Investing in emerging
markets, or specialised or restricted sectors is likely to be subject to a
higher-than-average volatility due to a high degree of concentration, greater
uncertainty because less information is available, there is less liquidity or
due to greater sensitivity to changes in market conditions (social, political
and economic conditions).

Some emerging markets offer less security than the majority of international developed markets. For this reason, services for portfolio transactions, liquidation and conservation on behalf of funds invested in emerging markets may carry greater risk.

Writen by Environmental Strategies Group. The post What you need to know about polysilicon and its role in solar modules appeared first on Investors’ Corner – The official blog of BNP Paribas Asset Management, the sustainable investor for a changing world.

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Energy & Critical Metals

Uranium Royalty Latest Fund to Gobble Up Physical Uranium – Holdings Reach 1,048,068 Pounds of U3O8

Uranium Royalty Corp Expands Physical Uranium Holdings to 1,048,068 Pounds of U3O8 at a Weighted Average Cost of US$37.64 per pound U3O8

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Uranium Royalty Corp Expands Physical Uranium Holdings to 1,048,068 Pounds of U3O8 at a Weighted Average Cost of US$37.64 per pound U3O8

Canada NewsWire

VANCOUVER, BC, Oct. 19, 2021 /CNW/ – [nxtlink id="269617"]Uranium Royalty Corp.[/nxtlink] (NASDAQ: UROY) ([nxtlink id="269617"]TSXV: URC[/nxtlink]) (“URC” or the “Company“) announces that it is entering into contracts for an additional four spot purchases totaling 400,000 pounds of U3O8 at an average cost of US$45.00 per pound U3O8. Deliveries will be accomplished in October-December 2021 through book transfers to URC’s storage account at [nxtlink id="268558"]Cameco Corporation[/nxtlink]‘s Fuel Services facilities in Ontario, Canada.

As a result, URC will hold a physical inventory of 1,048,068 pounds U3O8 in the Cameco storage account at a weighted average cost of US$37.64 per pound. The latest Trade Tech daily spot price is at US$47.25 per pound as of October 18, 2021, leading to an increase in the net realizable value of URC’s physical uranium holdings to US$10.07 million.

It is within URC’s mandate to make periodic purchases of physical uranium to provide attractive commodity price exposure to shareholders, especially in these early stages of a bull market in uranium. The global mega-trend towards de-carbonization is providing a major catalyst for carbon-free, safe, and reliable nuclear energy, and market fundamentals are rapidly rebalancing with continued under-investment in new mine capacity and drawdown of excess inventories.

This news release constitutes a “designated news release” for the purposes of the Company’s prospectus supplement dated August 18, 2021 to its short form base shelf prospectus dated June 16, 2021.

About [nxtlink id="269617"]Uranium Royalty Corp.[/nxtlink]

[nxtlink id="269617"]Uranium Royalty Corp.[/nxtlink] (URC) is the world’s only uranium-focused royalty and streaming company and the only pure-play uranium listed company on the Nasdaq.  URC provides investors with uranium commodity price exposure through strategic acquisitions in uranium interests, including royalties, streams, debt and equity in uranium companies, as well as through holdings of physical uranium. The Company is well positioned as a capital provider to an industry needing massive investments in global productive capacity to meet the growing need for uranium as fuel for carbon-free nuclear energy.  URC has deep industry knowledge and expertise to identify and evaluate investment opportunities in the uranium industry. The Company’s management and the Board include individuals with decades of combined experience in the uranium and nuclear energy sectors, including specific expertise in mine finance, project identification and evaluation, mine development and uranium sales and trading.

Forward Looking Information

Certain statements in this news release may constitute “forward-looking information”, including those regarding the Company’s expectations regarding uranium markets. Forward-looking information includes statements that address or discuss activities, events or developments that the Company expects or anticipates may occur in the future. When used in this news release, words such as “estimates”, “expects”, “plans”, “anticipates”, “will”, “believes”, “intends” “should”, “could”, “may” and other similar terminology are intended to identify such forward-looking information. Statements constituting forward-looking information reflect the current expectations and beliefs of the Company’s management. These statements involve significant uncertainties, known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors and, therefore, actual results, performance or achievements of the Company and its industry may be materially different from those implied by such forward-looking statements. They should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be an accurate indication of whether or not such results will be achieved. A number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking information, including, without limitation, risks inherent to royalty companies, uranium price volatility, risks related to the operators of the projects underlying the Company’s existing and proposed interests and those other risks described in filings with Canadian securities regulators and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. These risks, as well as others, could cause actual results and events to vary significantly. Accordingly, readers should exercise caution in relying upon forward-looking information and the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly revise them to reflect subsequent events or circumstances, except as required by law.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange (the “TSX-V”) nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX-V) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

View original content:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/uranium-royalty-corp-expands-physical-uranium-holdings-to-1-048-068-pounds-of-u3o8-at-a-weighted-average-cost-of-us37-64-per-pound-u3o8–301402822.html

SOURCE [nxtlink id="269617"]Uranium Royalty Corp.[/nxtlink]

[nxtlink id="268558"]cameco corporation[/nxtlink]

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Energy & Critical Metals

Pilbara Minerals Reaches Records Prices for Lithium Spodumene

Pilbara Minerals’ (ASX:PLS) third auction on the Battery Material Exchange (BMX) digital platform for 10,000t (SC5.5%) spodumene went off at a record…

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Pilbara Minerals’ (ASX:PLS) third auction on the Battery Material Exchange (BMX) digital platform for 10,000t (SC5.5%) spodumene went off at a record $US2,350/t.

It outshines auction two on September 14, which went off at a then-incredible $US2,240/t to singlehandedly spark a historic 86.5% month-on-month increase for average spod pricing industry-wide.

The average price for SC6% cargoes this time last year was ~$US380/t.

In the December half of 2020 – when pricing was still weak — Pilbara Minerals sold 114,239t of spodumene concentrate in contracts for revenues of ~$59m.

It has now raked in ~$US54m alone from these three spot cargoes totalling 28,000t.

“As with the previous two auctions, strong interest was received in both participation and bidding by a broad range of buyers,” Pilbara Minerals says.

“Parties placed 25 bids online during the 45-minute auction window, with the Company considering the bidding to be very strong in light of the deferred delivery date.”

 

 

The post Pilbara Minerals just sold the most expensive cargo of lithium spodumene ever appeared first on Stockhead.

Author: Reuben Adams

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Hyliion’s Unique Bet on the Future of Trucking

Hyliion (NYSE:HYLN) is one of the flood of electric vehicle (EV) SPACs that emerged over the past year. HYLN stock, like its peer group, has also had a…

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Hyliion (NYSE:HYLN) is one of the flood of electric vehicle (EV) SPACs that emerged over the past year. HYLN stock, like its peer group, has also had a rough run in 2021 after the initial price spike.

Source: Muratart/Shutterstock.com

Unlike most of the EV companies, however, Hyliion has a unique vision. Rather than aiming to build its own EV brand from the ground-up, Hyliion is working on niche solutions to enhance the already-existing trucking industry. It aims for incremental improvement rather than reinventing the wheel.

So, will Hyliion’s new approach find commercial success?

Hyliion’s Products

Currently, Hyliion is working on a few different items to improve trucking efficiency. The company makes powertrains, which can be added to trucks. These are intended to capture power as a vehicle rolls downhill. That retained power charges a battery, which can help assist the vehicle once it needs energy again. However, the high $25,000 sticker price for HYLN’s product counteracts the fuel savings; so far, demand has been limited.

Hyliion is also working on battery packs. However this is a competitive field where it may not have a significant advantage.

The firm’s most promising item is the Hypertruck ERX. This is a unique product. It offers a truck a dual-powered system that runs on both a battery and a natural gas engine. For shorter-trips, it goes purely off the electric battery, offering clean emission-free driving. It has built-in features such as regenerative braking to help conserve and maximize power from the existing battery as well.

Once the vehicle goes beyond its range, however, it switches to using the on-board natural gas engine. Natural gas is much cleaner than diesel. Historically, it’s also been much cheaper, though that’s currently under question given the ferocious rally in natural gas prices over the past few months. Regardless, historically, there’s been a considerable amount of interest in using natural gas for trucking.

A combination natural gas/battery engine could be a best-of-both-worlds solution. It offers many of the efficiency and environmental benefits of electric, while having a much larger range thanks to the natural gas backup. Additionally, it gives trucking companies a relatively simple way to improve their business and improve their environmental profile without having to totally overhaul their whole fleet.

Is There Demand for This Solution?

There’s a bearish talking point on HYLN stock is worth considering. Simply put, there are dozens if not hundreds of companies in the EV space, with many of them focusing on trucking in particular. Yet Hyliion is the only one—or at least the only public one—pursuing this sort of hybrid approach.

Thus, one can reasonably suggest that Hyliion’s solution simply isn’t that promising . The existing trucking industry has operated as it has for decades. It may take a total rethinking of trucking from the ground up to disrupt the existing supply chain. Even if Hyliion can produce incrementally better results, that may not be enough to move the needle.

More broadly, there is a dilemma so many SPAC firms find themselves in. They have little in the way of profits or even recurring revenues yet. So, investors have to believe in the story to maintain their confidence in the firm. That certainly applies to HYLN stock, which has generated minimal revenues up to this point. The company does have a decent balance sheet and a number of pre-orders. Still, it will take more time to see if Hyliion can convert its potential into tangible results.

HYLN Stock Verdict

Hyliion is doing something different. You can argue that either way. Bears say no one else is pursuing this path because it is unlikely to garner much commercial interest. And that’s a fair argument.

On the other hand, there are way too many generic EV companies with a spiffy-looking prototype vehicle and little else. You might have better odds taking a chance on a company that is trying to advance a practical—albeit less flashy—solution to a widespread problem.

Hyliion lacks a lot of glamour you’d find in other EV companies. Relying partly on natural gas fails to check certain environmental, social and governance (ESG) boxes as well. However, if the company can deliver on its promises in terms of efficiency and cost savings, that other stuff shouldn’t matter too much. Hyliion still has to prove out that potential commercial demand. But the concept makes a lot of sense, and the valuation isn’t too demanding at this price, either.

On the date of publication, Ian Bezek did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Ian Bezek has written more than 1,000 articles for InvestorPlace.com and Seeking Alpha. He also worked as a Junior Analyst for Kerrisdale Capital, a $300 million New York City-based hedge fund. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.

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