Multi-Si wafer prices trended downward this week to RMB 1.1–1.25/piece, averaging RMB 1.2/piece. After six consecutive weeks of price decline, operating multi-Si wafer makers have been struggling to run their business and even at a loss. As a result, there are rumors about production cuts and even cessations.
Foreign multi-Si wafer prices were down to USD 0.16–0.164/piece this week, averaging USD 0.162/piece—for two reasons. For one thing, very few orders were booked in the previous week due to India’s nationwide lockdown, although price negotiations were taking place as local cell makers will resume operation soon. For another, the Chinese prices for multi-Si wafers had decreased for several weeks.
From a supply perspective, if four Tier-1 makers and one Tier-2 maker producers maintained their production lines (mostly older ones) between now and sometime in May, this would have some impact on polysilicon supply. Meanwhile, with mono-Si wafer producers in the midst of gaining new capacities and developers rushing to install PV systems before June 30, polysilicon prices for mono-Si and multi-Si wafers will remain stable over the short term. They may even climb between mid- and late May; how much they will increase depend on the extent of equipment maintenance among producers and the level of demand from the end market.
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.
While this week’s Chinese mono-Si cell prices rose a bit due to the June 30 installation rush, new mono-Si wafer production lines are continuing to be brought online, allowing the overall supply and demand of mono-Si wafers to remain balanced. So, mono-Si wafer prices seem likely to remain stable between the post-Labor Day and late May.
This week’s price for M2 wafers was almost consistent with its previous level, whereas the low point of prices for G1 wafers decreased slightly. On the whole, Chinese mono-Si wafer prices were RMB 2.35–2.5/piece for M2 and RMB 2.6–2.82/piece for G1 this week. Foreign mono-Si wafer prices were USD 0.303–0.32/piece for M2 and RMB 0.343–0.356/piece for G1 this week.
As China is reportedly to keep the timeline for PV tariff degression unchanged and some vertically integrated producers had cut their cell production volumes, there were market expectations that yet another installation rush would take place before June 30. Against this backdrop, cell prices started to rise this week.
Mono PERC cell prices on the whole rose marginally to an average of RMB 0.76–0.77/W for M2 format and 0.78–0.79/W for G1 format. High-priced mono PERC cells also improved in price, coming in at RMB 0.79/W for M2 and RMB 0.8/W for G1. There were a handful of deals clinched for high-priced G1-sized cells. Among Tier-1 makers, the price quotes for G1-sized cells were RMB 0.81–0.82/W.
Looking ahead, the June 30 installation rush may help keep mono-Si cell prices stable only for the short term, as supply will remain surplus and prices sluggish with overseas demand showing no sign of recovery during May–June.
Foreign mono-Si cell prices did not fare well this week, as orders continued to be placed in small numbers amid low demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mono-Si cells produced in Southeast Asia went down to USD 0.14/W, with bargains struck at as low as USD 0.12/W.
Multi-Si cell prices, which continued their decline along with increasingly fewer orders placed, dropped to RMB 2.4/piece in China this week. Foreign multi-Si cell prices were being negotiated as India was going to lift its nationwide lockdown early in May. But even if the lockdown is lifted, Indian demand will remain stagnant, prompting the prices to keep going down. With slim gross margins, multi-Si cell producers are likely to either reduce their utilization rates or provide outsourcing.
Despite the return of the June 30 installation rush, overseas demand remains weak due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, even as Chinese demand continues to pick up, the predicted slack in overseas demand during May–June means that module demand will not significantly improve for the short run, and Chinese module makers with more orders to fill will fare relatively well over the two-month period. And although cell prices have started to rebound, price quotes for modules continue to decrease.
The foreign module prices recently negotiated for the second half of this year suggest that module prices will continue to trend downward over the period. They’ve fallen to USD 0.195–0.205/W. Meanwhile, there is growing demand for higher module power output in overseas markets, with price quotes for 435–440 W modules increasing. This trend will help ramp up the production volume of modules assembled with M6-sized cells in the second half.