By Rory Hall
We have documented the solar programs of both China and India and now we learn that Africa is also going solar. This is great news for a multitude of reasons, especially if you are a silver bullion enthusiast.
China has committed to producing enough solar energy to power 100 million homes by 2020 bringing online approximately 5 GW annually beginning in 2014. India has made the same commitment and both countries are way ahead of schedule. We have discussed this situation with our resident expert, Jeff Brown, China Rising, on a number of occasions. You can find the interviews providing the details of China’s solar silver demand, along with India’s solar program, here and here.
We just learned on Feb 20 the scale of Africa’s solar project. According to OilPrice.com:
When His Majesty Mohammed VI of Morocco commissioned the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant on February 4, 2016, long-term advocates for clean energy in Morocco and Africa celebrated a breakthrough.
The $3.9 billion plant, Noor 1, which provides 160 MW of power, is the first phase of a four-part 580 MW facility that will be the world’s largest solar plant when completed. The project is a public-private partnership between Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) and a consortium led by the Saudi International Company for Water and Power (ACWA Power).
Once completed in 2018, Noor complex will supply power to 1.1 million people. The facility doesn’t come cheap. The whopping $9 billion required to finance 580 MW Noor is provided by a who’s who of development finance organizations including: German investment bank KfW ($1 billion), World Bank ($400 million), European Investment Bank ($596 million), Climate Investment Funds ($435 million), Clean Technology Fund ($97 million), African Development Bank (EUR 168 million).
Once again no small-scale project that will impact over 1 million people. The magnitude of this project, while extremely large, is actually dwarfed by the projects in China and India.
If you combine these three nations you see a massive amount of silver going to very specific needs. This silver will be off the market for years before coming back online as recycled product. This, of course, is assuming the return on investment warrants recycling the silver found in individual solar panels. If it is not found to be cost effective the silver will be lost forever.
This brings me to the next step in this situation – China is already importing silver ore and refining in China to supplement their silver mining operations. India has no mining operations to speak of, and Africa produces very little silver.
Which all leads to the next point: global demand for investment silver bullion. Global demand has increased to the point that the two largest government mints in the world have moved to rationing sales beginning in July 2015 and continuing through the first quarter of 2016. The U.S. Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint have not said the rationed sales will stop at the end of the first quarter 2016, that is pure speculation. Odds are we will see rationed sales of American Silver Eagles and Silver Maple Leafs deep into 2016. And as Louis Cammarosano pointed out – “…that rationing has the impact of adding back supply as what they intentionally don’t mint for coins can be used for solar.” Putting even more pressure on already stretched to the limit retail markets.
This is to say nothing of the silver mining production being flat for all of 2015 and quiet possibly a decline manifesting in production for 2016 (based on recent history and the fact that mining operations are slowing or shutting down completely).
If these three countries are sucking up all the silver they can get their hands on for their solar programs, and global investment demand is so strong the two largest minted coins in the world are rationed – where is the silver going to come from by the end of 2016? How will the bullion dealers be able to back-fill their shelves to supply the retail investors of coins, bars and rounds?
Regardless of the fact the government continually tries to teach us 2+2=5, it does not. Got physical?