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Upstream price hikes drive up supply chain prices, pushing limit on downstream acceptance

April 27, 2022 PV InfoLink

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*Spot price will be suspended once next week (May 4) for the Chinese Labor Day holiday.

Polysilicon

The polysilicon sector sees actual supply volume upticks this month, as new production capacities gradually come online. But the growth is still limited, subject to recent inspection plans that affect existing production volume. In May, supply volume is expected to increase by 6-9%. 

Polysilicon prices stay on a slow upward trip this month, coming in at RMB 246-253/kg for mono-grade polysilicon for the time being. In the meantime, price quotes for orders in May rise, with major manufacturers reaching beyond RMB 253/kg. Trading prices for sporadic orders climb to RMB 253-256/kg. Overall, prices remain elevated, pushing up the high-price range where orders are sealed.

Wafer

Both two mono-Si wafer supermajors raised pricings on April 27. 

Longi raised pricing for 182mm wafers with a thickness of 160μm by RMB 0.1/piece from RMB 6.76/piece to RMB 6.86/piece, a 1.5% increase. 
Zhonghuan revised pricing for the 210mm/160μm format upwardly by RMB 0.1/piece, from RMB 9.05/piece to RMB 9.15/piece, a 1.1% price hike. The 166mm/160μm format see pricings being raised to RMB 5.7-5.72/piece, a 1.1-4.0% of wide-ranging increase.

In the second quarter, 166mm products see faster declines in market share. The rise of large formats escalates. 

Mono-Si wafers have seen prices going up since earlier this year, posting considerable price increases. As of April 25, price quotes for 182mm wafers have mounted above the peak in 2021.

In the second quarter, mainstream thickness of large format wafers may reduce to 155-160μm, driven by ceaseless polysilicon price hikes and in pursuit of profits. Some manufacturers have completed the transition to 155μm.

In May, spot prices here will be posted based on market’s mainstream thickness, for wafer manufacturers offer price quotes with smaller and smaller thicknesses.

Cell

In China, prices for cells in all formats stay on the rise this week, given short raw material supply, persistent logistical blockades, and sustaining module utilization rates that underpin cell demand. Yet, prices in overseas markets marginally drop as exchange rates fluctuate. 

M10 cells see robust demand this week. Meanwhile, module makers switched to other formats for some production lines, alleviating M10 cell shortages. Price quotes for M10 cells come in at RMB 1.18-1.185. Trading activities show module makers accepting prices beyond RMB 1.165-1.17 for new orders. Vigorous trading makes cell manufacturers reluctant to sell. Module makers can hardly seal the deal for May orders at RMB 1.16/W. 

M6 cells see demand slump, failing to send prices higher, which sit at RMB 1.11-1.12/W in China, and RMB 1.13/W in overseas markets. Future price trends hinge on production costs. For G12 cells, demand keeps prices at RMB 1.16/W for the time being.

A critical phase of negotiations will welcome the market back from the Chinese Labor Day holiday. Cell prices can hardly rise to RMB 1.18/W, as there is a limit on the acceptance of the module sector. In May, as polysilicon and wafer production volumes will steadily grow, and logistical logjams pose only interim impacts, the situation is not in favor of cell price hikes. Negotiations between module makers will determine movements of cell prices and may force them to slip in the future.

Prices for multi-Si cells rise in accordance with higher production costs, standing at RMB 3.9-4.4/piece, and USD 0.55-0.57/piece in overseas markets.

Module

Short-term logistical issues and BoM price hikes shore up module production costs. Given current price level, module makers can break even at RMB 1.88-1.9/W of module prices. Therefore, module prices advance this week. Prices for EVA are poised to rise in the second part of April.

Subject to high prices and the pandemic, only some utility-scale projects are initiated in China this week. As module makers can bear high production costs no more, module prices advance to RMB 1.87-1.89/W for utility-scale projects. Some previous orders are still delivered at RMB 1.85/W. Overall, prices averaged at around RMB 1.88/W. In May, utility-scale projects may see prices come in at RMB 1.9-1.95/W. Some tender projects have seen prices as high as RMB 2/W (shipping costs included).

Distributed projects in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai see some inertia this week due to logistical bottlenecks, whilst those in other regions still making some progress. Prices sit at RMB 1.9-1.96/W for distributed projects, averaging at around USD 1.91-1.93/W. This week, weighted arithmetic mean prices rise to RMB 1.9/W. Differences between mainstream prices for glass-glass modules rated beyond 500 W and their glass-backsheet counterpart stabilize at RMB 0.02-0.04/W.

Overseas markets see steady price trend. In Europe, prices for glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W stay at USD 0.27-0.275/W and come in at USD 0.28-0.29/W for residential projects. In the Asia-Pacific, prices sit at USD 0.265-0.268/W for glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W. In Australia, module prices sustain at USD 0.275-0.29/W. 

Logistical bottlenecks impede modules\ deliveries from Southeast Asia to the U.S., where local module supply is already short. Against this backdrop, module Southeast Asian makers mark up prices to quell the risk of future investigation for any circumventing activity. As a result, average prices mildly increase to USD 0.33-0.34/W (FOB). Local sales prices continue inching forward, sitting at around USD 0.5-0.55/W. 

N-type cell and module

Prices see no evident changes as the market has yet to see many price quotes for n-type products. Prices for M6 HJT cells sit at around RMB 1.3-1.35/W.  

M10 and G12 TOPCon cells have not seen much trading by far, with prices coming in at RMB 1.2-1.25/W for the time being.

Module prices slightly increase, as subject to production costs, coming in at RMB 2.05-2.15/W for M6 HJT modules. In overseas markets, M6 HJT and M6 PERC modules see USD 0.05-0.06/W of price differences. 

M10 and G12 TOPCon module prices stay where they were last week, at RMB 1.95-2.05/W, with USD 0.015-0.025/W of price differences, as compared to M10 and G12 PERC modules in overseas markets.

 

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