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Market more in wait-and-see mode as high prices persist in the upstream

November 3, 2021 PV InfoLink

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Polysilicon

Polysilicon prices remained high this week, with mainstream average prices rising marginally to RMB 268/kg, closing in towards the high point at RMB 271/kg.

Given current market demand, it’s uncertain whether polysilicon prices can rise further, despite the year-end being usually the high season. In the meantime, prices for silicon metal and other raw materials essential for the production of polysilicon have seen sharp surge since October. Silicon metal supply gradually recovered, as impacts of power rationing resided.

Major polysilicon manufacturers, having no choice but to supply the downstream, began signing new orders, despite buyers and sellers haggling over prices intensely. Sporadic orders were sealed at prices slightly higher than mainstream average prices. As of this week, defying increasing hesitation and price negotiations, the market remained resilient, with still robust trading and shipping activities.

Wafer

Prices for mono-Si wafers remained stable this week. The cell sector, pressured by low utilization rates and profitability, appeared increasingly reserved and showed greater anticipation for wafer price declines. Inventory draws slowed and stalled at various extents, as a result of the market’s inconsistent projection for leading wafer manufacturers’ latest official pricings.

Manufacturers’ financial reports released recently disclose operational status and profitability during January and September. Wafer supermajors posted favorable performances, securing their lead in the industry. However, based on the reports, profitability of each segment still saw marked declines amid obstinately high polysilicon price.

Zhonghuan and other manufactures’ pricings, which located in the mid-high price range, remained mainstream for mono-Si wafers. Orders may be delivered at current prices, if no manufacturer releases new pricings in the short term. Still, doubts remained in the acceptance of the cell sector.

Multi-Si wafers set to become more expensive, as driven by polysilicon price hikes amid meagre production output. Still, further price trend hinges on downstream acceptance and inventory draws. 

Cell

This week, cell manufacturers delivered orders as last week. Cell prices sustained at RMB 1.11-1.16/W as last week; prices for 166mm cells sat at RMB 1.1-1.14/W, with low-price range rolling back marginally by RMB 0.01/W. 182mm cells, with relatively steady sales volumes, saw prices retaining at RMB 1.15-1.16/W. Prices for 210mm cells, which saw fewer buyers, stayed at RMB 1.1-1.12/W.

Cell manufacturers bid their time as upstream prices showed signs of decline. Once upstream prices slid, prices of modules in formats with lower demand may drop marginally by RMB 0.01-0.02/W. November prices for G1 and M10 modules seem to be persisting for the time being.

Multi-Si cell prices, despite last week’s seemingly rising momentum, lingered at RMB 3.85-3.9/piece this week due to sluggish demand. Further price trend is treated conservatively, given short multi-Si wafer supply. Downstream sectors are less likely to accept the increased prices, if they shall rise to RMB 4/piece. 

Module

Major module makers saw prices sustained, signing new orders for 166mm, 182mm, and 210mm glass-backsheet modules respectively at RMB 2.03-2.1/W, RMB 2.05-2.13/W, and RMB 2.08-2.1/W. Module makers were still delivering orders signed previously, at prices of RMB 1.95-2/W or lower. The market saw wide price differences. This week, Tier-2 module makers trimmed down price quotes for new orders, resulting in RMB 0.02-0.06/W of differences as compared to their Tier-1 peers. There will be at least fifteen days of lead time amid short supply prior to the year’s end. Tier-1 and Tier-2, Tier-3 makers saw varied order delivering capability.

Prices stabilized in overseas markets. For glass-backsheet modules with a power output exceeding 500 W, previous orders were delivered at USD 0.25-0.255/W, whilst new orders saw price quotes coming in at USD 0.28-0.295/W. Overall, few new orders were signed for the fourth quarter, as overseas markets were in wait and see mode. Module makers appeared rather reserved towards price quotes for the first quarter of next year, given residual uncertainties in production costs. For now, price quotes for glass-backsheet modules purportedly sit at around USD 0.26-0.29/W.

 

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