Price hikes continue across supply chain amid polysilicon and wafer shortages
September 1, 2021 PV InfoLink
Last and this week saw the busiest negotiations between Tier-1 manufacturers. Production capacities are fully booked for September, as utilization rates of the two wafer supermajors markedly increased, driving up demand for polysilicon. Market prices rose accordingly from last week’s RMB 203-207/kg to RMB 205-210/kg this week. With insufficient inventory left for manufacturers to sell, prices for sporadic orders continue going up, with some being signed at RMB 210-212/kg.
The wafer sector successfully raised prices in response to rising production costs, underpinning polysilicon price hikes throughout September.
The market saw intense wafer supply for September, as cell manufacturers and vertically integrated companies increased utilization rates to meet growing demand. Given that, after Longi released new pricings on August 19, Zhonghuan also raised prices to clients at the end of August, with official pricings yet to be announced. Several wafer manufacturers followed suit, pushing up prices for G1, M6, and G12 wafers further.
Presently, prices for M6 wafers with a thickness of 170um sat mainly at RMB 5.07-5.12/piece, with most manufacturers failing to purchase enough wafers. Shortages occurred not only for M6 wafers, but for large wafers such as M10 and G12. The industry ramped up wafer thinning process, with M10 wafers having already switched to 170um of thickness by the third quarter of the year, whilst G12 wafers started doing likewise.
Multi-Si wafer prices soared amid robust demand from the Indian market, reaching RMB 2.4-2.5/piece this week, a marked increase on last week’s RMB 2.2-2.35/W. Some manufacturers reported on downstream clients’ unacceptance for continual price increases. As a result, some Chinese manufacturers and oversea buyers traded at prices of last month’s level, whilst still negotiating for September orders.
Cell manufacturers raised price quotes in response to higher production costs, as supply intensified in the upstream. In the evening of August 30, Tongwei released official pricings again, setting to revise prices for M6 and G12 wafers upwardly in September, by RMB 0.03/W and RMB 0.02/W, respectively. Orders were gradually settled by Wednesday, with most of them coming from medium-sized module makers. Chiefly fulfilling previous orders, Tier-1 module makers have not signed new orders yet; prices appeared somewhat chaotic. Price range slightly differed this week, with prices for cells of 158.75mm sustaining at RMB 1.08-1.15/W, whilst cells of 166mm saw prices sitting at RMB 1.02-1.06/W, 182mm at RMB 1.03-1.06/W, and 210mm at RMB 0.95-1.04/W.
Presently, purchase volumes show signs of rising in September, compared to levels in August, and see little reduction. However, purchasing activities of Tier-1 module makers slacked off slightly since the end of August; orders can hardly be signed at prices higher than RMB 1.06/W. Further changes hinge on upstream price trends. Being less advantaged than vertically integrated companies, some medium-sized module makers are considering lowering production and purchase volumes.
This week, multi-Si cell prices continued rising along with multi-Si wafer price hikes but capped at RMB 3.85-4/piece. The cell sector saw limited rooms for further price increases, as purchase volumes slowed this week and share of mono-Si products continued increasing in India, the largest market for multi-Si products.
Being overwhelmed by steep hike in midstream and BOM prices, module makers plot to raise prices in recent terms. In September, price quotes for new M6 glass-backsheet module orders are expected to come in at RMB 1.75-1.79/W, some even at RMB 1.8/W. Glass-backsheet modules rated above 500 W saw price quotes sitting at RMB 1.8-1.83/W. Glass-glass and glass-backsheet modules saw approximately RMB 0.02-0.03/W of price differences. Judging from the latest bid prices of Chinese projects, Tier-1 makers’ price quotes for glass-backsheet modules with power output exceeding 500 W all came in above RMB 1.8/W, with freight charge included.
Presently, orders have not been materialized, as module makers are still testing the acceptance of downstream sectors. Prices for monofacial modules can hardly sustained above RMB 1.8/W, given end users’ limited cost durability after rounds of price hikes from last to this year. Some module makers renegotiated terms to extend delivering time to the first quarter of next year. Presently, some re-negotiated projects and new projects in China were carried out through price negotiations, instead of the usual tendering process.
In overseas markets, module prices stabilized at current levels for the time being, whilst utility-scale ground-mounted stations saw no changes in prices by far. Prices for M6 and M10 modules averaged at USD 0.23-0.24/W and USD 0.24-0.245/W, respectively. Prices on distribution markets in Europe and Australia are expected to see USD 0.01-0.015/W of increases.
New orders in September saw PV glass prices increase from RMB 22-24/m2 at the end of August, given rising production costs resulted from soda crystal and natural gas price increases. Price quotes from glass makers came in at RMB 24-27/m2 by far, with medium-sized module makers signing orders at RMB 25-26/m2. In overseas markets, module makers purchased at USD 3.55-3.9/m2. Tier-1 module makers are still negotiating; price range remained chaotic.
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