The US “Section 201” is scheduled to impose a 30% tariff rate on PV cell and module imports on February 7th. Although it’s still unclear how the tax-free 2.5GW cells will be allocated to each country, the US will focus on digesting local module stock in 1Q18 and won’t come up with many incentives to stimulate weak market condition.
When we look at the market condition, after Chinese demand weakened, many top-tier module manufacturers have stopped purchasing cells and handling OEM orders. In addition, some cell makers became conservative toward the shipment to India, leading to a plummet of multi-Si cell prices. Cell makers of China, Taiwan, and third-party countries have slightly lowered the capacity utilization rates. When cell makers digested all of their wafer stock at the end of this month, cell utilization rates are expecting to increase rapidly. In other words, the off-peak season has officially arrived in the PV market.
After going through more than half a year of tight supply and rising prices, the polysilicon market can’t escape from the off-peak season as well. Polysilicon is priced at RMB 155-158/kg for top-tier manufacturers, but orders were settled at RMB 145-150/kg for traders and smaller-scale polysilicon makers this week. Meanwhile, as the inventory level begins to increase for wafer manufacturers, polysilicon prices are likely to decline significantly recently.
Due to the rapid decline of multi-Si cell and module prices, diamond wire (DW) multi-Si wafers also witnessed substantial decline of prices: from RMB 4.5/piece and US$ 0.635/piece to RMB 4.3/piece and US$ 0.6/piece.
Leading mono-Si wafer manufacturer, Longi, announced price reduction, which caused mono-Si wafer prices to reach RMB 5-5.2/piece and US$ 0.7-0.725/piece in China.
Last week, multi-Si cell prices dropped rapidly from RMB 1.65/W to RMB 1.55-1.58/W. This week, due to the higher inventory level, multi-Si cell prices have dropped more significantly to RMB 1.4-1.45/W. This price put pressures on many cell makers, forcing them to lower the utilization rates.
Despite the decline of prices, Taiwanese and overseas cell makers barely received any orders. In addition, their costs are higher than Chinese makers, and that’s why their price quotes are slightly higher than Chinese cell makers, reaching US$ 0.19-0.205/W.
Mono-Si PERC prices remained stable recently after going through a significant decline of prices. The average trading price of PERC cells reached RMB 1.7-1.8/W and US$ 0.225-0.235/W. The trading volume of conventional mono-Si stayed weak, with small fluctuation in prices.
The mono and multi-Si module markets still witnessed slight decline in prices. Yet, distributed generation (DG) projects are not as sensitive to prices as utility-scale projects. Recently, conventional multi-Si module is priced at RMB 2.6-2.65/W for DG projects, while prices have dropped to below RMB 2.6/W for utility-scale projects.