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Polysilicon price decline slowed; module utilization rates recovered

December 29, 2021 PV InfoLink

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As the year draws to a close, InfoLink wishes you a happy new year and long may our mutual support continue.

Polysilicon

Buyers and sellers are negotiating more actively during the last week of the year in the polysilicon sector. Buyers have more bargaining chips, thanks to steadily increasing polysilicon supply and inventory that piled up faster on previous levels. To date, preliminary outcome of price negotiations this month showed polysilicon prices falling rapidly from RMB 270/kg to RMB 230/kg, with the downward trend accelerating.

This week continued to see some orders being sealed. However, inventory levels varied among each manufacturer, with some depleting faster, and some still accumulating. Buyers expected polysilicon prices to drop further, appearing reserved in face of prices higher than their anticipations.

By now, polysilicon prices dropped to RMB 226-234/kg, with low-price range sitting at RMB 207-212/kg. Supply-demand relationship is to be re-examined as the Lunar New Year looms.

Wafer

182mm mono-Si wafers saw low-price range recovering, with some Tier-2 manufacturers offering almost RMB 5.8/piece of price quotes, whereas their Tier-1 counterparts sustained prices at around RMB 5.7/piece for the time being. 

Prices for 166mm wafers rebounded amid tightening supply. Prices of major manufacturers recovered mildly to RMB 4.95/piece this week, with the market hearing some even higher price quotes.

As 210mm wafer production advanced faster towards 160um of thickness, more of them have been available on the market. From January 2022 onward, official pricings will be posted based on 160um of thickness, in accordance with trend for thinner wafers. With inventories depleting faster in the wafer sector, and polysilicon price trends becoming clear, prices for mono-Si wafers are expected to stabilize for the time being.

Despite some 158.75mm and very few 166mm multi-Si wafers being available on the market, official pricings are still published based on 157mm and 175um of thickness. 158.75mm of size made up the most multi-Si wafer demand overseas, mostly from India. Price differences and premiums exist among various sizes.

Cell

Cell prices stabilized this week. Delivering prices for M6 cells sustained at RMB 1.05/W this week, as some module makers secured orders ahead of time amid shrinking production output and wafer supply is short. Accordingly, M10 cells were delivered at RMB 1.07-1.08/W. Prices for G12 cells temporarily stabilized, sitting at RMB 1.01-1.05/W, remaining mostly at where they were previously, as negotiations for new round of orders went on.

The cell sector raised utilization rates to 60-70%, thanks to higher module utilization rates in this coming January. Most cell manufacturers are expecting to lift prices for M6 and M10 cells by RMB 0.01-0.02/W by then. However, the cell sector sees limited rising momentum, given decreasing polysilicon prices will drive down overall prices and rather sluggish demand in January and February in which the Lunar New Year falls. Yet, mono-Si cell prices are expected to fluctuate in tandem with wafer prices and keep fair profits.

Multi-Si cells saw no new order this week due to sapping demand in India. Prices lingered at RMB 3.4-3.5/piece. Multi-Si cell prices are likely to stabilize in the future, as only Solar Space, Yichnag CSG Poly, and few others are producing them, and considering meagre number of buyers from the Indian market and some medium-sized manufacturers in China.

Module

Demand lost momentum in the second half of December, with no re-initiated project yet. Delivering prices mostly sustained at where they were for previous orders, sitting respectively at RMB 1.8-1.85 and RMB 1.82-1.95 for 166mm glass-backsheet modules and glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W, whilst mainstream prices came in at RMB 1.88-1.9/W for the time being. 

Presently, mainstream prices for mono-Si glass-back sheet modules sat at RMB 1.81-1.87/W, as supply chain prices continued going down. With strong anticipation for further declines, some manufacturers offered price quotes aggressively for January, with some tenders opening at prices as low as RMB 1.75/W, indicating discrepancy in buyers’ and sellers’ attitudes towards prices next year.  

Prices in overseas markets saw little change this week during the Christmas holidays. For now, prices for 166mm glass-backsheet modules and glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W sat respectively at USD 0.27-0.275/W and USD 0.275-0.28/W. 

Demand will slightly increase in January and February 2022, as compared to levels this month, reviving in European and Indian markets, and appearing rather sluggish in the rest. Module inventory had depleted to normal level in mid-November. Doubled with inventory draws prior to the Lunar New Year, module makers raised utilization rates to 70-80% for January, a 10-20% increase on levels this month. 

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