This week, Chinese polysilicon prices for mono-Si wafers remained stable at RMB 71–74/kg and RMB 44–51/kg for mainstream polysilicon for multi-Si wafers.
The production volume of polysilicon for multi-Si wafers showed no marked change in January. But the coronavirus outbreak that began during the Chinese New Year has delayed workers’ returns to work in China, and this will certainly cause a shortage of polysilicon powder in February. Having been left undersupplied with polysilicon powder due to restricted transports, some polysilicon makers may lower their utilization rates accordingly. Polysilicon powder shortage, coupled with potential increases in delivery costs, makes it highly likely for polysilicon prices for mono-Si and multi-Si wafers to increase. It’s likely that polysilicon prices for mono-Si and multi-Si wafers will climb by RMB 1/kg.
Foreign polysilicon prices did not undergo much change this week, staying at USD 8.3/kg for mono-Si wafers and USD 6.7/kg for multi-Si wafers. Behind the small change are that few polysilicon deals were clinched over the week and exchange rates returned to their early-January levels after the Chinese New Year break.
Before the Lunar New Year holiday, demand for multi-Si wafers had showed no sign of improving and some multi-Si wafer makers had closed ahead of schedule. Since the holiday extended amid the coronavirus outbreak, supply of multi-Si wafer decreased further. Against this backdrop, most multi-Si wafer makers are considering raising their prices, but given the low utilization rates among multi-Si cell makers, whether they will do so depends on the trading prices when the cell producers resume operation. This week, the multi-Si wafer price was RMB 1.43–1.54/piece, averaging RMB 1.52/piece.
Despite being hit by the coronavirus outbreak, the supply of mono-Si wafers remains practically balanced thanks to stable production from Tier-1 manufacturers. But the main bugbear for mono-Si wafer makers is prolonged delivery. The mono-Si wafer price, which is expected to hold up for the short term amid the outbreak, stayed at RMB 2.98–3.06/piece this week.
As the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted the supply chain operations in China and prompted some countries to prohibit Chinese imports, wafers are running low in foreign markets for the time being and several cell makers have thus reduced their utilization rates. This week’s foreign prices were USD 0.385–0.393/piece for M2 mono-Si wafers, USD 0.42–0.428/piece for G1 mono-Si wafers. The prices for multi-Si wafers was USD 0.202–0.208/piece.
Although many cell producers have suspended production after the Lunar New Year, the overall utilization rates are high, making it likely for cell supply to remain stable for the short term. This week’s price for mono-Si cells made of the M2 wafer held up at RMB 0.95/W.
With little business to undertake, most multi-Si cell makers closed during the holiday. Moreover, their postponed opening has led to an undersupply of such cell. On the whole, the multi-Si cell price was consistent this week with its pre-holiday level, staying at RMB 2.65–2.8/piece in the market. Meanwhile, multi-Si cell makers entertain the idea of raising their prices, as multi-Si wafers are likely to achieve price increases. But this remains a moot point until cell producers resume work.
Due to delivery hiccups and blocked highways, screens and packaging materials are running short in the cell segment. Consequently, cell supply shows no clear change these days and cell prices will remain stable for the short term.
With manufacturers having remained closed, not much transactions occurred this week, allowing module prices to stay in line with their pre-holiday levels. For many Tier-1 makers, their factories in Zhejiang have sharply cut their production volumes as they suspend production or operate at a low capacity utilization.
They also have a hard time making deliveries amid the coronavirus outbreak. While domestic module demand lies dormant and few end-market manufacturers have qualms about drawing in modules amid the outbreak, there is not much change in foreign module demand. As Indian developers are now rushing to complete installations as their current fiscal year is coming to an end, supply of modules will fall short of demand for the short term. Meanwhile, as hiccups in overseas shipment continue to prevail, some module makers reportedly consider offering higher quotes to foreign customers.
Aside from Japan and India, which are approaching the end of their respective fiscal years, no other markets see any unusual occurrence of installation. So, there should be considerable bargaining over foreign module prices for the short term. How those prices will fare at later points in time depends on how the coronavirus outbreak will affect the producers after the market opens and how that epidemic will progress.