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Polysilicon prices slip amid pressures from downstream sectors

July 21, 2021 PV InfoLink

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Polysilicon manufacturers saw inventories accumulate for the first time since the ceaseless post-Lunar New Year stockpiling activity, as Tier-1 wafer makers kept utilization rates low, and thus had limited polysilicon procuring volumes. As a result, polysilicon prices originally sustaining at higher levels started to slip, with trading prices mostly sitting at RMB 200-210/kg and averaging at around RMB 205/kg. Tier-2 polysilicon manufacturers, on the other hand, saw prices slightly lower than RMB 200/kg, to maintain stable cash flows and avoid continual price declines in the future.

Further price trends hinge on the declining extent of wafer prices from the end of the month to August and how much time end user demand would take to recover. If end user demand gradually picks up in the second half of August, the amount of polysilicon inventory accumulation will not be too high; prices will not drop significantly either, given strong end user demand expected in the fourth quarter.

In anticipation of price decreases, companies are still negotiating in overseas markets. Therefore, prices appeared chaotic and were expected to stay on marginal declines in the short term.

Wafer

Zhonghuan released latest pricings lately, with the price for M6 wafers with a thickness of 170um being trimmed down from RMB 4.72/piece to RMB 4.54/piece, whilst prices for wafers of other formats remained unchanged. Except for Longi, other manufacturers acted in line with Zhonghuan’s official pricings, as demand for M6 wafers have started to weaken slightly.

However, wafer buyers are still in a wait-and-see mode and waiting Longi to release new official pricings. As China demand slackened during July and August and some module makers trimmed down prices under inventory pressures, the downward trend is expected to continue for wafer prices in the short term, squeezing profits.

Multi-Si modules, with an unfavorable price–performance ratio, started to see manufacturers selling off, with mainstream prices coming in at around RMB 1.7/piece and below. In the beginning of the price decline, markets in China and abroad saw significant price differences. However, prices overseas plunged lately, approaching to those in China.

Cell 

Zhonghuan announced price cut for 166mm wafers last week. This week, prices for 166mm cells were revised down accordingly, with prices for mainstream efficiency cells averaging at RMB 0.96-0.98/W. There is approximately RMB 0.02-0.03/W of differences between prices for low, medium and high efficiency cells, as some low, medium efficiency cells being priced at RMB 0.94-0.95/W.

Cells of other formats saw stable prices; requests for orders for large format cells slightly increased in the second half of July. Prices for 182mm cells slid marginally, averaging at RMB 0.98-0.99/W, whilst 210mm cell prices leveled out.

Prices for multi-Si cells stayed at last week’s level, averaging at RMB 3.15-3.2/piece. Installations activated partially, as India’s safeguard duty will end at the end of July, whilst Indian module utilization rates gradually restore in August. Given limited multi-Si cell production capacity, prices will stabilize at RMB 3.2/piece.

Module 

Prices for some module orders in China slipped in response, after wafer and cell price declines. Tier-1 vertically integrated companies’ orders saw little price movement, with prices for 166mm modules slightly dropped by RMB 0.01/W, in accordance with price movements across the supply chain. Orders for modules with power output exceeding 500 W mostly stayed at the same prices, or some previously signed at higher levels saw marginal decreases; bulk orders for glass-backsheet modules were signed at RMB 1.77-1.79/W. Tier-2 manufacturers, on the other hand, saw bids offered competitively, with modules with power output exceeding 500 W started to see prices between RMB 1.7-1.75/W.

In overseas markets, module prices remained rather stable, with only few orders saw slight fluctuations in accordance with exchange rates. Large format modules may only see marginal price declines in the fourth quarter of the year, given polysilicon prices are not expected to see marked decline in the second half of the year, demand switched to large format products as per demand of utility-scale projects, and the coming installation rush in the fourth quarter of the year.

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