Polysilicon prices for mono-Si and multi-Si wafers fell to record lows this week. The prices were highly variable in the market these days. Although mono-Si wafer makers postponed their polysilicon procurement in the previous week, most of them signed orders in batches this week as they were operating at full capacity. Moreover, mono-Si wafer prices recently went down. Against this backdrop, polysilicon prices for mono-Si wafers were down this week by RMB 3/kg to RMB 62–65/kg and an average of RMB 63/kg.
Fewer deals were clinched this week for polysilicon for multi-Si wafers as multi-Si wafer producers cut their production volumes and even shut down in response to persistently low demand. Producers of polysilicon for multi-Si wafers, hit by growing stocks and falling polysilicon prices for mono-Si wafers, are facing pressure of varying degrees to cut prices. This week, polysilicon prices for multi-Si wafers were down to RMB 38–39/kg and RMB 38/kg on average. Foreign polysilicon prices, subject to variations in their Chinese equivalents, fell to USD 7.3/kg for mono-Si wafers and USD 5.8/kg for multi-Si wafers.
On the supply side, two Chinese polysilicon makers are undergoing equipment maintenance, but this does not seem to have much impact on the polysilicon supply in April. Therefore, several Tier-1 makers may begin equipment maintenance between the end of this month and early May. However, if polysilicon supply decreases, it can ease the recent downward trends in polysilicon prices.
Not much business activities took place this week in the multi-Si wafer market in China. Apart from vertically integrated makers that having signed some orders, the rest of the producers made fewer deals. How multi-Si wafer prices are faring depends on the level of demand. Although the prices have been on the decline over the past weeks, their continued decline did not help much to drive up demand. The prices were now RMB 1.15–1.3/piece and averaged RMB 1.25/piece.
Foreign multi-Si wafer prices maintained their previous levels at RMB 0.19–0.195/piece and an average of RMB 0.192/piece because no new deals were clinched after India extended its coronavirus lockdown to early May.
As inventory draw from cell and module sectors remains weak amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in overseas markets and mono-Si wafer stocks continue to grow, a mono-Si wafer giant has adjusted its list prices a second time this month. The adjustment involved putting wafers doped with gallium and boron at the same price and changing wafer thickness to 175µm.
Therefore, the average price for G1 wafers declined by 15% this week, compared to the beginning of this month. Mono-Si wafer prices are falling so fast that they are drawing near the break-even points for Tier-2 and 3 producers. Many wafer makers are facing growing pressure, particularly those that focus on producing boron-doped wafers. This week’s M2 mono-Si wafers are priced at RMB 2.32–2.5/piece and G1 at RMB 2.65–2.82/piece in China; USD 0.3–0.32/piece for M2 and RMB 0.346–0.356/piece for G1 in overseas markets.
As wafer manufacturers adjusted prices more frequently, cell giant Tongwei slashed its list prices on April 18 without prior notice. This points to the entire PV supply chain struggling under considerable pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prices decline in mono PERC cells continued into this week, although the price for M2-sized cells decreased less than last week, coming in at RMB 0.75–0.76/W on average and RMB 0.72–0.73/W for bargains. The price for G1-sized cells fell to an average of RMB 0.77–0.78/W. Foreign mono-Si cell prices did not fare well this week as fewer deals were clinched. The prices averaged USD 0.098/W for M2 and USD 0.1–0.103/W for G1.
Multi-Si cell prices continued to decline, coming in at RMB 2.39–2.45/piece this week in China, since the number of orders keeps going down. Although India remains closed, there were customers asking for quotes of multi-Si cells this week. So, overseas demand for the cells may pick up somewhat.
Cell prices continue to drop. They will hardly improve in the short run and instead remain low. As current cell prices are already at the break-event point for new production lines, prices can barely decrease. How the prices will change depends on how much wafer prices will decline, but they are expected to sustain less decline compared to the most recent two weeks. As demand for multi-Si cells will remain stagnant even when India lifts its nationwide lockdown, falling multi-Si cell prices may not help much to stimulate demand. As a result, producers may have to reduce their utilization rates or provide outsourcing services to stay afloat.
As it is not clear how the COVID-19 pandemic is going to play out in western markets, it still remains to be seen how overseas demand will vary. Although price quotes for modules are getting lower, demand shows no sign of improving. The gloomy module market outlook does not just hit prices in mid and upstream sectors but also prompts the price quotes for modules scheduled for delivery in the second half of this year to keep declining.
Mono PERC module prices have come in at RMB 1.6–1.65/W recently in China, with price quotes offered at less than RMB 1.6/W for modules scheduled for delivery in the second half. Against this backdrop, foreign prices for mono PERC modules scheduled for delivery in the second half went down to USD 0.198–0.21/W.