Supply tightness, strong demand amid brighter outlook pushes up tellurium prices

Tellurium prices rose by 6.43% on Friday February 24, due to supply tightness, strong buying interest from the thermo-electric sector and a positive outlook on solar panels, sources told Fastmarkets

Fastmarkets’ twice weekly assessment for tellurium 99.9-99.99% Te min, in-whs Rotterdam, was at $65.00-84.00 per kg on February 24, up from $64.00-76.00 on February 22.

Many market participants reported supply tightness and positive sentiment from growing demand for tellurium.

“Supplies are very tight and people are bullish about the future market,” a producer in China said.

A view endorsed by a European trader: “We were told that tellurium was sold out when we inquired and find the Chinese producers are not selling tellurium on the spot market.”

In addition to supply tightness, some market participants told Fastmarkets they were getting more inquiries from the thermo-electric sector.

“This time of the year, there is more buying interest for tellurium from the thermal electric sector. Usually, it is the peak buying season for tellurium in fridges,” a producer source said.

“There is material available, but traders may have difficulty in securing supplies at the moment,” the source added.

Other market participants, however, said they were not seeing an increase in demand from the cadmium telluride (CdTe) panel sector, which accounted for 40% of global tellurium consumption in 2021, according to the US Geological Survey. Although they agreed it was a sector that has the potential to grow.

Tellurium has a key role to play in the clean-energy transition, through its use in cadmium telluride-based thin-film cells used in solar panels.

“Tellurium for CdTe are usually sold on a long-term contracts, but the positive outlook is helping to improve sentiment,” the European trader said.

In October 2022, the European Commission endorsed the creation of a new European Solar PV Industry Alliance (launched by the European Union and led by EIT InnoEnergy), to support the objectives of the EU’s solar energy strategy, which aims to bring online more than 320 GW of solar photovoltaic power by 2025 and almost 600 GW by 2030.

And according to industry member-led association SolarPower Europe’s EU Market Outlook for Solar for Solar Power 2022-2026, which was published in December 2022, growth of 47% in newly installed solar PV in 2022 saw capacity rise by 41.4 GW, compared with the 28.1 GW of new capacity installed in 2021 and more than doubling the rate of installation compared with in 2020.

SolarPower Europe expects the deployment of new solar PV capacity in Europe to exceed 50 GW in 2023 and reach 85 GW in 2026.

The report shows that Germany was again Europe’s biggest solar market in 2022, with 7.9 GW of newly installed capacity, followed by Spain (7.5 GW), Poland (4.9 WG), the Netherlands (4.0GW) and France (2.7 GW).

Fastmarkets’ twice weekly assessment for cadmium 99.99% min, cif global ports was $2.00-2.15 per lb on February 24, up from $1.95-2.15 on February 22 - although some market participants told Fastmarkets they were struggling to find units, while another said there was still strong demand from the jewelry sector in India.

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