The oligopolistic market for silicon metal might have to battle quite a few challenges in the coming years, including high entry barriers, high production cost, and market volatility, but it receives strong support in the form of government regulations and policies. Backed by this, there has been large-scale deployment of solar panels across various developed and developing countries, furthering the demand for silicon metal.
Registering a 5.2% CAGR from 2016 to 2024, the opportunity in the global silicon metals is projected to be worth US$3.4 bn by the end of the forecast period. Transparency Market Research predicts that the increasing economic growth of several emerging economies is sure to bring the silicon metal market steady demand over the years.
Favorable Properties of Silicon Metal Spurring Demand from Various End Uses
Silicon metals find application in silicones and silanes, solar panels, aluminum alloys, laboratory reagents, and stainless steel, among others. The use of silicon metal in aluminum alloys is the highest and this segment of the overall silicon metal market held a share of over 40% in 2015 in terms of volume. Introducing silicon in aluminum alloys improves the latter’s properties of thermal conductivity, machinability, castability, and corrosion resistance. The demand for silicon metals to be used in silanes/silicones has also been significant over the years. This can be attributed to the application of silicones in the manufacturing of various chemicals and materials used in personal care products, building and construction, electronics, plastics, and textiles.
The use of silicon metal in semiconductors is projected to surge at the most rapid pace from 2016 to 2024. The favorable properties of silicon, such as low processing and extraction costs, reduced temperature susceptibility, easy doping, and low current leakage, make it the most preferred metal for the production of semiconductors.
Rapid Growth of Building and Construction Sector Boosts Silicon Metal Demand in APAC
The global market for silicon metal comprises North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa. Asia Pacific dominates the global market by volume and in 2015, the region held a share of over 40%. It will also be the fastest growing regional market for silicon metal, TMR predicts. The demand for silicon metal in the APAC region is anticipated to augment in the coming years owing to optimistic economic growth, the easy availability of raw materials, and cheap labor and power costs. In addition, there has been a surge in government policies directed at increasing the production of domestic energy by using solar panels. This factor also has the potential to spur the demand for silicon metal in Asia Pacific in the coming years. The rapid growth in the building and construction sector in countries such as India and China is also likely to translate into a high demand for silicon metal, further supporting the expansion of the APAC silicon metal market.
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North America is anticipated to witness moderate growth in the coming years owing to the medium demand for silicon metal in aluminum alloys. Latin America, on the other hand, is projected to experience considerable growth over the next eight years thanks to the increasing demand for silicone-based defoamers in the food and beverages industry.