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Emerging Demand from Solar Battery Industry to Drive Global Cadmium Market


Emerging Demand from Solar Battery Industry to Drive Global Cadmium Market

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Cadmium – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The global cadmium market is estimated at $122M for 2020. While the battery industry is currently the primary application for cadmium, the expanding demand from the cadmium telluride battery industry could provide a powerful boost to the market for the metal. Technological improvements and the introduction of new capacities for recycling solar cells will become an urgent need for the next decade and an attractive area for investment.

Key Trends and Insights

The global market for untreated cadmium, according to estimates by IndexBox, amounted to $122M in 2020. China (39%), India (22%) and Australia (4%) lead global cadmium consumption.

Most of the cadmium consumption in the world is used for producing batteries. The rapidly growing battery industry will remain the main driver of expansion for the cadmium market. The innovative nickel-cadmium battery is superior to its lead-acid counterpart in terms of service life. It is also lighter and can be recharged with the same systems commonly used for lead-acid car batteries. Intense competition from lithium-ion batteries remains the primary limiting factor to the rapid growth of the nickel-cadmium battery market.

The use of cadmium as a component of semiconductors for solar cells is likely to become a powerful stimulus for market development. In 2020, telluride-cadmium batteries quickly gained popularity and became the most frequently used among other kinds of solar cells. This modification of flexible batteries is characterized by low cost and high efficiency of 20-22% and a low temperature coefficient, which makes them suitable for mass use in countries with hot climates. In 2020, two new large-scale production facilities of telluride-cadmium batteries with a total capacity of 1.9 GW per year was launched in the U.S. in the state of Ohio.

The expansion of the cadmium-based solar cell industry could lead to increased investment in creating recycling and disposal facilities. If today 99% of cadmium is extracted from nickel-cadmium batteries for subsequent use, then the technology for processing solar batteries has not yet received sufficient development. According to a report jointly prepared by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency Photovoltaic Power Systems Program (IEA-PVPS), global PV panel waste will reach 8M tons by 2030 and will increase to 78M tons by 2050.

Сadmium use in paint pigments, alloys, anti-corrosion coatings and PVC stabilizers stand out among other dynamically developing application areas. The latest development that could expand cadmium consumption is the production of ultra-precise clocks with a cadmium-based optical lattice, capable of operating at room temperature, in contrast to the currently widely used clocks that could expand cadmium consumption use cryogenic cooling.

Global Cadmium Production

In 2020, global cadmium production declined slightly to 34K tonnes, remaining constant against the previous year. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +1.8% from 2010 to 2020. In value terms, cadmium production fell to $92M in 2020, estimated at export prices.

The countries with the highest volumes of cadmium production in 2020 were China (10K tonnes), South Korea (5.2K tonnes) and Canada (2.4K tonnes), together accounting for 53% of global production. These countries were followed by Russia, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, France, Peru, Poland and the U.S., which together accounted for a further 37%.

Global Cadmium Exports

In 2020, after three years of decline, there was significant growth in shipments abroad of cadmium, when their volume increased by +9% to 16K tonnes. In value terms, cadmium exports fell to $35M (IndexBox estimates) in 2020.

In 2020, South Korea (4.1K tonnes), distantly followed by China (2.2K tonnes), Canada (1.6K tonnes), Japan (1.5K tonnes), France (0.9K tonnes) and Russia (0.7K tonnes) were the largest exporters of cadmium, together constituting 70% of total exports. Mexico (618 tonnes), Germany (526 tonnes), Poland (519 tonnes), the Netherlands (510 tonnes), Kazakhstan (477 tonnes), Uzbekistan (466 tonnes) and Peru (360 tonnes) held a relatively small share of total exports.

In value terms, South Korea ($9M), China ($5.9M) and Canada ($4.1M) appeared to be the countries with the highest levels of exports in 2020, with a combined 54% share of global exports.

China recorded the highest rates of growth with regard to the value of exports over the past decade. From 2010 to 2020, China’s exports rose from $1.2M to $5.9M.

In 2020, the average cadmium export price amounted to $2,219 per tonne, falling by -14.9% against the previous year. There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major exporting countries. In 2020, the country with the highest price was China ($2,711 per tonne), while Kazakhstan ($1,605 per tonne) was amongst the lowest. From 2010 to 2020, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Uzbekistan, while the other global leaders experienced a decline in the export price figures.

Source: IndexBox Platform