Prices across the supply chain continue to trend downward. To avert price decreases induced by stockpiling, wafer producers are procuring less polysilicon and even putting off buying it until after they evaluate the level of demand from the downstream segment.
This week, fewer deals for polysilicon for mono-Si wafers were clinched. The prices decreased considerably, sitting at RMB 65–68/kg and an average of RMB 66/kg, down by RMB 5/kg compared to the previous week. There were no deals signed at prices higher than RMB 70/kg in the market.
Prices for polysilicon for multi-Si wafers continued to decrease this week amid flagging demand and low utilization rates. The market prices came in at RMB 38–40/kg and averaged RMB 39/kg.
Foreign polysilicon prices went down this week along with their Chinese equivalents, coming in at USD 7.7/kg for mono-Si wafers and USD 6.3/kg for multi-Si wafers. Polysilicon prices plummet to a new low, as impacts of falling prices on flagging foreign demand for modules amid the COVID-19 pandemic have rippled through the polysilicon segment. Moreover, as end-market demand is not going to pick up anytime soon, polysilicon prices for mono-Si and multi-Si wafers will keep falling.
This week, only a handful of orders for multi-Si wafers were signed. With multi-Si wafer prices in China continuing to decrease, at RMB 1.2–1.35/piece and an average of RMB 1.3/piece, some multi-Si wafer deals were made at bargain prices in the market. Multi-Si wafer prices have been reduced for four consecutive weeks, and amid a gloomy market outlook, operating producers have lowered their utilization rates and even closed down to reduce or avert losses.
Adding to the weakening multi demand is the extension of India’s nationwide lockdown to the end of April. So, multi-Si wafer prices will be trending downward over the short term. This week’s foreign multi-Si wafer prices, which have stayed flat since last week because no deals were clinched, came in at USD 0.19–0.195/piece and an average of USD 0.192/piece.
Weak inventory pulls from the cell sector has prompted mono-Si wafer stocks to bulge and prices to fall. In response, some producers reduce their utilization rates to avoid losses. Although a Tier-1 mono-Si wafer producer lowered its list prices a week after the announcement of its prices to stimulate sales, this strategy, however, fell short of expectations. Meanwhile, pressed by the launch of gallium-doped mono-Si wafers, prices for boron-doped ones are declining among Tier-2 and 3 makers.
This price reduction is the most evident for M2 wafers, which are repeatedly undersold. In China and overseas markets, this week’s prices for G1 mono-Si wafers held up, whereas those of other size formats decreased to varying extents. Chinese prices for mono-Si wafers were RMB 2.6–2.68/piece for M2 and RMB 2.82–3.15/piece for G1; foreign prices for the wafers were USD 0.335–0.343/piece for M2 and USD 0.359–0.399/piece for G1.
Mono PERC cell prices continued to decrease this week. Last week’s price reductions by Tier-1 mono-Si wafer maker caused mono PERC cell prices to decline further, with the M2-sized cell having been undersold and its price having slumped to an average of RMB 0.78–0.79/W. The price for the G1-sized mono PERC cell also dropped this week, to an average of RMB 0.81–0.83/W.
Foreign mono PERC cell prices show no sign of improving, as the number of orders does not pick up due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, with foreign producers increasingly shifting to G1-sized mono PERC cells, fewer deals are clinched for M2-sized ones. This week, the average price was USD 0.104–0.105/W for M2 and USD 0.106–0.107/W for G1.
Multi-Si cell prices in China fell to RMB 2.5–2.55/piece this week as few orders were placed following India’s nationwide lockdown. But the prices picked up a bit in foreign markets. With a small number of deals clinched in Southeast Asia and Europe, they improved to an average of USD 0.315/piece.
Overall, with foreign demand being persistently low, the cell sector may continue to have a hard time, and prices for mono and multi-Si cells will stay low for the short term. It remains to be seen whether price decreases in mono-Si cells will prompt mono-Si wafer prices to decrease further. How long multi-Si cell prices will continue to decline depends on the duration of India’s COVID-19 lockdown. But even if multi-Si cell prices keep going down, it would not help stimulate demand. So, multi-Si cell producers may have to either reduce their utilization rates or provide outsourcing services.
An extended nationwide lockdown has exerted a considerable impact on the number of module orders from India. In other markets, C&I distributed and residential PV projects remain the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the markets are expected to take a turn for the better in the middle of this year, how they will actually fare depends on how the pandemic plays out.
Despite low prices, foreign module demand remains stagnant because over the short term more customers are expected to put off the delivery of their orders or delivery hiccups may persist. Even if module producers lower their price quotes, cutting prices still falls short of stimulating demand; that is why only a few deals were clinched recently. Against this backdrop, module makers focus largely on the Chinese market, where demand is relatively stable this year. Mono PERC module prices, which have been on the decrease, reached RMB 1.6–1.66/W. The prices will decline further over the short term.