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M2 cells fare poorly in price as a result of weaker Chinese demand

March 4, 2020 PV InfoLink

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Poly Price
With most producers having clinched deals for March, this week’s polysilicon prices showed little difference from their previous levels, hovering at RMB 72–75/kg for mono-Si wafers and RMB 44–51/kg for multi-Si wafers. Increased costs of raw and bill of materials is hitting polysilicon makers, but as mono-Si and multi-Si wafer prices remain stable, the market price for polysilicon in March has climbed by RMB 0.5–1/kg.

Fewer polysilicon deals were clinched this week because some operating producers of multi-Si wafers, which experienced a protracted production lull during an extended New Year holiday, are reducing their polysilicon stock. There are currently eleven operating polysilicon producers in China this month. Three of them maintained a 70% utilization rate due to a lack of silicon powder; two are operating with lower utilization rates because they fall short of their production targets, and the rest are running at full capacity.


Foreign polysilicon prices maintained their previous levels because of stable exchange rates, staying at USD 8.3/kg for mono-Si wafers and USD 6.7/kg for multi-Si wafers.
 
 
Wafer Price
This week’s multi-Si wafer prices were consistent with their previous levels, staying at RMB 1.43–1.57/piece, averaging RMB 1.55/piece. They were even said to have arrived at under RMB 1.4/piece in the market when traders engaged in underselling. Multi-Si wafer prices will remain stable in the short term because supply has decreased further since producers belatedly resumed operation and recovering demand in India will sustain the country’s inventory draw-in for multi-Si products. This week’s foreign multi-Si wafer prices were USD 0.2–0.205/piece and averaged USD 0.203/piece.

The list price for mono-Si wafers for March is consistent with that for February. Notably, the list price for mono-Si wafers has not changed over the past year, suggesting strong demand for mono products. As a shortage of module bill of materials caused module makers to operate under capacity and mono-Si cell stock to bulge, mono-Si cell prices dropped in the previous week. Nevertheless, it appears that module inventory draw is growing stronger. If the coronavirus epidemic subsides and new capacities come online, mono-Si cell prices will decline steadily because of oversupply. This week’s Chinese mono-Si wafer prices hovered at RMB 2.98–3.08/piece for M2 and 3.27–3.35/piece for G1; foreign prices for M2 and G1 mono-Si wafers both maintained their previous levels.

 
Cell Price
This week, mono-Si cell inventory started to shrink as module makers’ utilization rates continued to climb. But because a growing shift from M2 to G1 in the cell sector has depressed demand for M2-sized cells, M2-sized mono-Si cells saw inconsistent pricing and wider price gap this week, with their price dropping to RMB 0.9–0.91/W and even to RMB 0.89/W where bargains struck. By contrast, this week’s price for G1-sized mono-Si cells sustained less decrease, coming in at RMB 0.94–0.96/W.

With Indian developers rushing to install PV systems before the fiscal year ends and multi-Si cell producers operating with low utilization rates, multi-Si cell prices this week were identical to their previous levels, staying at RMB 2.8–2.85/piece in the market. Multi-Si cell prices are forecast to remain at the current levels for the short run, as the supply of the cell takes time to pick up and India’s demand for it will stay strong until the fiscal year ends in March.

 
 
Module Price
Module makers have been raising utilization rate gradually in March. On average, their utilization rate has risen from 40%–70% in early February to 70%–80% now. Yet, an undersupply of module bill of materials, logistic hiccups, and shipping delays conspire to make it difficult for many producers to fill orders placed by foreign customers—particular those from Japan and India, which sees developers rushing to install PV systems before the fiscal year ends on March 31. Overall, while module prices have achieved small increases for urgent projects in overseas markets, prices for most modules are relatively stable. How module prices will fare depends on how China’s PV policy takes shape this year.
 

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