Module prices plunge as China unveiled record low bids for utility-scale projects
May 20, 2020 PV InfoLink
Polysilicon prices for mono-Si wafers recently show diminished stability due to continued reduction in mono-Si wafer prices. Persistently low market prices are getting closer to the cash costs of operating producers of polysilicon for mono-Si wafers. In a bid to stabilize prices, the producers have started to negotiate prices based on individual order instead of offering the lowest prices for individual company. Tier-1 makers signed new deals this week, with polysilicon prices for mono-Si wafers having dropped by RMB 1/kg, sitting at RMB 58–60/kg in the market, and averaged RMB 59/kg.
Demand for polysilicon for multi-SI wafers, whose trading price dropped to a new record low last week, remained stagnant, with a persistently low number of orders placed by wafer makers. Polysilicon prices for multi-Si wafers went down this week to RMB 29–31/kg in the market and RMB 30/kg on average. Foreign polysilicon prices spiraled downwardly alongside their Chinese equivalents to USD 6.8/kg for mono-Si wafers and USD 4.7/kg for multi-Si wafers.
On the supply side, five polysilicon producers are under maintenance program this month and two mega-tonne-scale producers will also start maintenance at the end of the month. Meanwhile, an overseas polysilicon producer has been under maintenance since last week, and another has reduced their production by 30%–50%. That several polysilicon producers in China and overseas markets are under maintenance will have a greater impact on polysilicon supply, which will decline by 17% in June compared to May. Moreover, because polysilicon stocks have shrunk to normal levels, polysilicon prices for mono-Si and multi-SI wafers are forecast to climb steadily over the short run.
As mono-Si wafer prices have been on the decline since April and India has extended its lockdown until the end of May amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it will take a longer while for multi demand to pick up. Multi-Si wafer makers that hold partnership with vertically integrated makers have struck some deals; other producers have cliched fewer deals. So, multi-Si wafer prices are still decreasing. This week, the prices were down to RMB 1.05–1.2/piece in the market and to RMB 1.12/piece on average.
Having reduced early in May, mono-Si wafer prices were almost consistent this week with their previous levels, staying at RMB 2.45–2.67/piece for G1 and RMB 2.67–2.76/piece for M6 in China. In overseas markets, they sat at USD 0.322–0.335/piece for G1 and USD 0.341–0.346/piece for M6. Mono-Si wafer prices are likely to remain stable until the end of May—for two reasons. For one thing, the decline in polysilicon prices for mono-Si wafers is abating considerably and producers in China and abroad are undergoing maintenance. So, June will see polysilicon for mono-SI wafers shrink substantially in supply and pick up in price. For another, Tier-2 and 3 mono-Si wafer makers are not going to cut their prices any time soon and Tier-1 makers are reducing their inventories. But if new production lines are coming online, while demand remains weak in overseas markets, mono-Si wafer oversupply will continue to persist this year, prompting prices to trend downward at a steady pace.
Along with ever-decreasing mono-Si wafer prices, prices for boron-doped wafers were recently pressed down. Hit by low boron-doped wafer prices, most Tier-2 and 3 makers can no longer afford to produce such wafers. So, mono-Si wafer makers are increasingly shifting to the gallium-doped wafer, which will soon replace the boron-doped wafer as the mainstream mono-Si wafer in the market.
This week mono-Si cell prices exhibited less variation, sitting at RMB 0.79–0.8/W for G1 and M6 and averaging USD 0.1/W for both sizes. Considering the June 30 installation boom in China and the gradual recovery in some overseas markets, mono-Si cell prices will remain stable until the installation boom enters its final stage in mid-June, and then start decline slowly again.
M2-sized mono-Si cells came in mostly at a price of RMB 0.77–0.79/W this week, with some even having fetched a trading price of RMB 0.8–0.82/W, thanks to a rush to install postponed projects, a growing number of requests for quote, and a declining number of producers. However, because the prices stabilized largely on the strength of the June 30 installation boom, they may go down after the boom ends.
Despite the adoption of multi products in some PV projects in China, multi-Si cell prices continue to decline as demand is not going to pick up any time soon. Indeed, India has extended its lockdown and few deals for the cells have been struck overseas. This week, multi-Si cell prices averaged RMB 2.3/piece and reached a low of RMB 2.2–2.25/W.
Judging from the results of utility-scale PV auctions in China, the prices of modules to be delivered in the second half of this year show marked downward trends following significant price decreases in mid-and upstream segments.
Module demand has made limited improvement since the installed capacity during the June 30 installation boom is modest at best, the COVID-19 pandemic is not well contained in overseas markets, and Indian is under an extended lockdown. Moreover, Tier-1 makers continue to expand capacity; they even kicked off price competition in the recently closed auctions to secure more orders. Against this backdrop, the mainstream prices for mono PERC modules will decline slowly in the second half of this year to RMB 1.5–1.55/W, and both 430–440 W and 395–410 W modules will sustain dramatic price reduction.
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