The mono-Si wafer market began to witness downtrend in prices ever since Longi, a leading mono-Si wafer maker significantly lowered prices by RMB 0.4/piece in November. The price of 180μm mono-Si wafers dropped from RMB 6/piece to RMB 5.6/piece. Mono-Si demand is expecting to stay weak in January 2018. That’s why although top-tier mono-Si wafer manufacturers haven’t released new price quotes this week, smaller-scale manufacturers have started to sell products using cheaper prices. The lowest price of 180μm mono-Si wafers reached RMB 5.2-5.4/piece and continues to drop.
At the end of 2016, mono-Si wafer capacity only reached 25GW. However, demand increased rapidly when mono-Si wafer capacities haven’t started to grow in 1Q-2Q17, resulting in supply shortage for mono-Si wafers in 1H17. As Longi and Zhonghuan expanded capacities substantially in 2H17, mono-Si wafer capacities have reached 45.2GW by the end of this year, more than enough to supply next year’s demand. Capacity expansion may continue next year, and therefore mono-Si wafer won’t be the bottleneck sector in the supply chain. Prices are expecting to be lower.
On the other hand, due to weak demand, the mono-Si wafer market started to feel the pressure of oversupply in December. Consequently, smaller-scale manufacturers have begun to lower their capacity utilization rates. Judging from profit perspective, it’s obvious that leading mono-Si wafer makers have earned high profits. That’s why top-tier mono-Si wafer maker can still lower prices when utilization rates are reduced, hoping to alleviate the pressures brought to mono-Si cell and module makers.
Let’s now look at the price trend for each sector of the supply chain:
Since some manufacturers including certain top-tier polysilicon makers are still conducting the equipment maintenance from December till next year, the average trading price of polysilicon reached RMB 149-156/kg in December and will remain high in January 2018. But mono-Si wafer makers have continually lowered the utilization rates. If utilization rates are lowered more significantly in January and polysilicon supply increases in February, the tight supply of polysilicon will be alleviated slightly by then. Polysilicon prices may start to drop.
Due to the weak demand of mono-Si cells and modules, the mono-Si wafer sector started to feel the sales and stock pressures in December. This week, smaller-scale mono-Si wafer makers have started to sell wafers at cheaper prices, hoping to lower the inventory level. Consequently, although prices of 180μm reached RMB 5.5/piece for leading manufacturers, second-tier Chinese makers have lowered their prices to RMB 5.2-5.4/piece and will continue to reduce the prices. The mainstream prices of 180μm have dropped to US$ 0.72-0.735/piece in the overseas due to weak demand.
The multi-Si market sees completely different views as mono-Si. Stimulated by the strong demand in India and China, it seems that multi-Si demand will remain strong in January 2018. Although diamond wire (DW) multi-Si wafer capacity increases every month, DW multi-Si wafer is in tight supply. Cell makers have started to check with wafer makers of the DW wafer supplies for January, making sure they can get enough stock. As a result, multi-Si wafer prices are not likely to drop substantially in the short run. This week, the average trading price of DW multi-Si wafers reached RMB 4.75/piece in China and US$ 0.65/piece in the overseas. The price gap between mono and DW wafers has shrunk to RMB 0.45-0.75/piece in China and US$ 0.08/piece in the overseas.
The mono-Si PERC cell market still witnessed significant decline in prices. The average trading price of mono-Si PERC cells dropped to RMB 1.75-1.9/W in China, very similar to multi-Si cell prices. This is also the moment that mono-Si PERC cell price is this close to multi-Si.
The average trading price of PERC cells dropped to US$ 0.25-0.255/W in Taiwan, still has quite a gap with Chinese PERC cell prices. Prices are expecting to drop further in Taiwan.
The module sector faces similar trend as the mid-sector. The multi-Si module market saw strong demand, while mono-Si PERC modules demand were much more weaker. Therefore, PERC module prices continued to drop in countries outside of Europe and the US. It’s common for 295-300W modules to reach US$ 0.36-0.38/W. Compared to US$ 0.35-0.37/W for 270W multi-Si modules, PERC modules has higher cost effectiveness. Although the power plant market can’t respond to this situation any quicker, it takes about one quarter in average to stimulate end-use demand according to the “golden cross” of mono & multi-Si prices previously. In addition, the “Top Runner Program” initiated in Q2 will stimulate mono-Si demand, leading to higher mono-Si demand after the Lunar New Year.