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Market awaits future wafer price trends

June 22, 2022 PV InfoLink

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Polysilicon

Prices at which polysilicon orders are signed keep rising amid short supply, coming in at RMB 265-270/kg for mono-grade polysilicon, and RMB 268-275/kg for recycled polysilicon scraps. As of the end of the second quarter, ceaseless price hikes seem innocuous to the robust demand from the wafer sector. Wafer manufacturers fail to run at full capacity but manage to keep relatively high utilization rates.

Seeing rigorous order signing activities, sellers and buyers are still faced with the conundrum of arranging lead time and delivery schedules, as polysilicon shortage shows no sign of easing. 

To add to that, an accident on June 16 forced leading polysilicon manufacturers to cease production for line inspections, tapping the brake on the already slow increase of polysilicon supply.

In the short term, the growth of polysilicon supply will face hurdles, as northern China welcomes warmer weather, and some polysilicon makers undergo line inspections. 

All eyes are on the progress of new polysilicon production capacities. Some projects will be commissioned in July and possibly stanch the loss caused by line inspections. Still, the shortage persists. Polysilicon buyers see pressure building, especially new ingot capacities in need of polysilicon to generate actual output by the second half of the year. Some ingot companies resort to alternative business models and forms of partnership with polysilicon manufacturers.

Wafer

Prices for mono-Si wafers stabilize for the time being. The two leading manufacturers keep prices unchanged for mainstream format wafers, whilst their Tier-2 peers follow suit for all formats. Short supply for 182mm wafers intensifies, but the market still awaits the unveiling of official wafer pricings. Price trends may start to diverge for wafers in different formats, provided with ceaseless price hikes and short supply from the polysilicon sector.

Still suffering from polysilicon shortage, the bottlenecked wafer sector fails to raise utilization rates, bring up new production capacity, and increase production output. Wafer inventory of manufacturers remains relatively low, whilst that of downstream buyers is depleted at a faster pace. As more cell production capacities are upgraded for 182mm, the gap between both supply and demand for 182mm and 210mm wafers will widen.

Meanwhile, the application of new specs of 210mm products will receive increasing attention in the second half of the year.

Significantly decreasing supply allows multi-Si wafers to see excess demand in the last stage of their product life cycle. Prices surge, reaching beyond RMB 3-3.2/piece in all markets. However, multi-Si wafers keep losing market share, as downstream sectors gradually modify or close production lines. 

From July onwards, InfoLink will stop posting spot prices for multi-Si wafers. 

Cell

Cell prices advance on unabated short supply and stable module utilization rates. The market sees price quotes coming in at RMB 1.2-1.21/W, even RMB 1.22/W, for 182mm cells.

Trading prices for 166mm, 182mm, and 210mm cells come in at RMB 1.17/W, RMB 1.195-1.2/W, and RMB 1.16-1.18/W, respectively. Multi-Si cell prices stabilize, sitting at RMB 4.25-4.45/piece, and USD 0.57-0.59/piece in overseas markets.

With demand shrinking rapidly, 166mm can hardly see further price increases. Price hikes for 182mm cells may have more momentum, given continual short supply and strong end user demand. Meantime, prices for 210mm cells are expected to stabilize after this week’s rally. Closing to the month’s end, cell manufacturers appear in a holding pattern and await the latest official wafer pricings.

Module

Module prices slightly pick up this week. Glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W are delivered at RMB 1.86-1.91/W for ground-mounted projects, and RMB 1.93-1.97/W for distributed projects (inland shipping costs excluded). Glass-glass and glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W see RMB 0.02-0.04/W of price differences.

Module utilization sustain, thanks to projects to be initiated in China during July and August and fair demand overseas. From next week onwards, modules are expected to be delivered at prices RMB 0.01-0.02/W higher for ground-mounted projects. Overall average prices will rise marginally.

Prices stabilize in overseas markets for now. The Asia-Pacific market sees prices sitting at USD 0.26-0.27/W (FOB). In Europe, prices for glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W sustain at USD 0.27-0.28/W and come in at USD 0.28-0.295/W on the spot market. 

July and August used to be the low season of European market. However, this year sees unwavering demand. Prices may rise by EUR 0.01-0.02/W for distributed projects and stay at USD 0.27-0.28/W for utility-scale projects.

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 HJT cells (166mm) sit at around RMB 1.3-1.45/W. 

TOPCon cells (182mm / 210mm) have not seen much trading by far, with prices coming in at RMB 1.25-1.27/W for the time being.

Module prices sustain this week, coming in at RMB 2.1-2.15/W for HJT modules (166mm), and USD 0.285-0.33/W in overseas markets. 

TOPCon module (182mm / 210mm) prices stay where they were last week, at RMB 2-2.05/W, and USD 0.28-0.3/W in overseas markets. 

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