The overall multi supply chain still witness strong demand in early-December. Yet, demand of mono-Si wafers, cells, and modules remained weak. Such a big difference between mono and multi-Si demand made the market condition in Q1 blurrier at this point.
After China’s Ministry of Commerce announced the new duty rates for Korean polysilicon imports, polysilicon prices slightly increased in December. The average trading price of polysilicon reached RMB$ 149-153/kg for multi-Si and RMB 155/kg for mono-Si. Overseas polysilicon didn’t fluctuate much.
Although the polysilicon market has experienced tight supply for nearly three quarters, some top-tier Chinese manufacturers are still going through the equipment maintenance in December, and therefore the supply shortage issue won’t be alleviated until late-2017. This caused polysilicon prices to reach RMB 150/kg in early-January 2018, putting more pressures on mid-to-downstream manufacturers that kept lowering prices.
Although leading mono-Si wafer manufacturer didn’t lower the price quotes for December last week, the weak demand of mono-Si wafers has led to lower prices for mono-Si wafers this week. The average trading price of 180µm wafers dropped from RMB 5.6/piece to RMB 5.5/piece in China and dropped from US$ 0.75/piece to US$ 0.735/piece in the overseas.
Following the strong demand of multi-Si wafers, prices this week remained stable. The price gap between DW multi-Si and 180µm mono-Si wafers shrunk, reaching RMB 0.75/piece (US$ 0.085/piece) this week.
The multi-Si cell market still witnessed strong demand in December. The average trading price of slurry cells reached RMB 1.73-1.75/W in China and US$ 0.221-0.224/W in Taiwan. DW multi-Si cell is priced at RMB 1.69-1.72/W (US$ 0.22-0.223/W). However, the closer the end of this year, the weaker the demand will be. Whether multi-Si cell prices can remain stable in late-December or not remains unclear.
Demand didn’t increase for conventional mono-Si and PERC cells this week, and hence prices kept dropping. The average trading price of conventional mono-Si cells dropped to RMB 1.7-1.75/W in China, lower than the price of slurry multi-Si cells. Taiwanese PERC manufacturers didn’t receive many orders, with the prices reaching US$ 0.255-0.27/W and may drop further in December.
As the final result for the “Section 201” case will be announced soon, the number of module orders to the US has begun to decrease. In addition, it takes 3 weeks to ship to the US; the number of US orders will drop in late-December. By then, the utilization rates for module OEM manufacturers in third-party countries may be affected.
As it comes to the end of the year, the demand growth has slowed down following the end of fiscal year. In 1Q18, all market will witness weak demand except India. India will urgently pull out goods before the anti-dumping and countervailing duty rate is officially imposed. InfoLink projected that Q1 will be the quarter with the weakest demand next year. Since India mostly uses multi-Si products, demand of multi-Si may still be higher than mono-Si in January 2018. Whether mono-Si can still be competitive may have to depend on the price gap between mono and DW multi-Si for wafer and cell sectors and when will the “Top Runner Program” begin to emerge. Overall, mono-Si module prices still slightly declined, while multi-Si module prices remained flat.