Due to a shortage of multi-grade silicon powder, a handful of Chinese multi-Si polysilicon makers has reduced their production this month. While all polysilicon makers are leveraging whatever means they need to furnish themselves with adequate silicon powder, polysilicon stockpiles nevertheless very likely to be exhausted, which will hit their production volumes in February and March.
This week’s polysilicon prices hovered at RMB 72–75/kg for mono-Si wafers and RMB 44–51/kg for multi-Si wafers. A shortage of polysilicon and increase in the costs of auxiliary materials and delivery may push up polysilicon prices by RMB 1/kg. Polysilicon prices for mono-Si and multi-Si wafers will trend slightly upward in the short run.
Foreign transactions are bustling over polysilicon for mono-Si wafers, which climbed by USD 0.1/kg at the high-priced end and averaged USD 8.3/kg this week, because an overseas polysilicon manufacturer closed production and overall prices increased amid diminished polysilicon supply in China. Foreign polysilicon prices for multi-Si wafers held up over the same week. While overseas polysilicon supply is going down, this decrease will exert a small impact on Chinese wafer makers, whose dependence on polysilicon imports is reducing year after year as China establishes self-sufficient domestic polysilicon industry.
Buffeted by the coronavirus outbreak, only a handful of Tier-2 and 3 multi-Si wafer makers have resumed operation since the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, although some Tier-1 makers, as well as a few producers in northwest China, have also restarted production. As the supply of multi-Si wafers continues to diminish, supply and demand is brought into better balance. This week’s multi-Si wafer prices hovered at RMB 1.43–1.57/piece and averaged RMB 1.55/piece. In overseas markets, they were USD 0.2–0.205/piece, a price range reflected by the deals signed in January during the run-up to the holiday.
As cell makers are returning to work, mono-Si wafers are running a bit low in supply. Mono-Si wafers come in a variety of sizes, but some of them are not necessarily available for supplying cell orders that involve substantial size changes. Next week Longi and Zhonghuan Solar are going to publish their March list prices for mono-Si wafers. Although polysilicon prices for mono-Si wafers have increased, mono-Si wafers—which generate more profits than any other segment of the supply chain—may see their prices stabilizing. This week, M2 and G1 mono-Si wafers respectively stayed flat at RMB 2.98–3.06/piece and RMB 3.27–3.35/piece in China. Both wafers retained their previous price levels in foreign markets.
As module makers are struggling to improve utilization rate amid a lack of materials, mono-Si cell makers have begun to see their inventories swelling. With growing downward price pressure from the module segment, mono-Si cell prices will trend downward in the upcoming week, when a new round of price negotiations is due to take place. This week, M2 and G1 mono-Si cells produced by Tier-1 makers held up at RMB 0.95/W and RMB 0.98/W, respectively. For Tier-2 makers, however, cells based on both formats saw a price drop of RMB 0.02–0.03/W. In foreign markets, mono-Si cells fell by around USD 0.12/W due to exchange-rate variations.
This week’s multi-Si cell prices improved somewhat to RMB 2.8/piece in the market amid persistently low supply at home and an undersupply linked to Indian developers’ fiscal year-end rush. As multi-Si wafer price growth may slow and multi-Si cell demand will weaken due to reduced utilization rates among module producers, multi-Si cell prices are likely to hold up on a supply/demand balance.
Module makers are still undersupplied with junction boxes, aluminum frames, and EVA films. Even if they maintain utilization rates, they are hampered by a shortage of packaging materials and disruptions in global shipping.
Those that can still release shipments have received a growing number of overseas orders. However, these producers are negotiating with customers over details related to delivery dates and volumes. So, foreign module prices will remain stable for a while and increase a bit afterward.
As the anticipated demand in Q1 is postponed, only a handful of new deals have been clinched these days. Meanwhile, this week’s mono PERC module prices in China were down to around RMB 1.67/W, in response to the prices falling to under RMB 1.7/W during the pre-New Year period for PV tenders.