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Silver demand could fall if Chinese solar installations decline: Heraeus

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Silver demand could fall if Chinese solar installations decline: Heraeus

Washington — A drop in Chinese photovoltaic solar panel installations this year couldresult in a decline in silver demand of about 10 million oz, German preciousmetals refiner Heraeus said Monday. "If global solar installations drop by 10 GW, this implies a reduction ofa little under 10 million oz in industrial silver demand, equivalent to around1% of total global silver demand," Heraeus said in a report.

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"With a decline in industrial demand now likely, the silver price couldlack support in the second half of 2018," it added.

Heraeus analysts noted that Chinese authorities recently announced lowerfeed-in tariffs, removed subsidies for utility-scale projects and put a cap onnewly installed small-scale solar capacity at 10 GW, compared with 19.4 GWlast year.

That capacity level has almost certainly been reached following theinstallation of 7.68 GW of distributed solar capacity in the first quarter,Heraeus said, referring to a statement from the Chinese National EnergyAdministration in late April.

"This combination of measures means that there could be a sharp slowdownin photovoltaic installations in China in the second half of the year,negatively impacting silver demand," Heraeus said.

China is the largest manufacturer and end-user of photovoltaic solarcells, with more than 53 GW of new capacity installed in 2017. According tothe Washington-based Silver Institute, solar cell production accounted forabout 9% of total silver demand, or 94.1 million oz, in 2017.

Solar installations were expected to decline in China this year due toreduced feed-in tariffs for distribution and utility-scale projects, but risemodestly in the rest of the world.

"However, with the new rules cutting installations in China, anddisruption to installations in the US caused by the 30% import tariff imposedby [President] Donald Trump in January, global solar installations are likelyto decline in 2018," the Heraeus analysts said. --Nick Jonson, nick.jonson@spglobal.com

--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, keiron.greenhalgh@spglobal.com