Bargaining over polysilicon prices has been under way since the first workweek after China’s National Day. The reason why the bargaining occurred is that mono-Si wafer makers’ polysilicon stock is going to be depleted because they were running at full capacity during the holiday and the producers were stocked up with polysilicon for sometime between mid and late October. Meanwhile, polysilicon demand continues to grow as new mono-Si wafer production lines are coming online fast. Tier-1 polysilicon makers expect to maintain prices at pre-holiday high levels, but to deal with growing inventories and mounting pressure from wafer makers for price reduction, the polysilicon producers have recently begun to cut prices.
Wafer manufacturers procure small quantities of polysilicon through multiple deals and, fearing further price hikes, they continue to buy polysilicon only when prices rise. This week, prices for mono-grade polysilicon declined to RMB 90–92/kg in the market, averaging RMB 91/kg, with only a handful of deals having been clinched. However, the trend for the prices will become clearer next week, some Tier-1 makers struck deals. Overall, as polysilicon supply is picking up in Q4, with multi-grade polysilicon produced in great volumes, polysilicon prices are likely to trend downward.
Multi-Si wafer makers, most of which closed up during the National Day, are biding their time after the holiday over multi-grade polysilicon procurement. Thus, prices for multi-grade polysilicon were almost consistent this week with their previous levels, traded at RMB 61–65/kg and RMB 63/kg on average. However, the prices may go down as multi demand is shrinking.
In non-Chinese markets, prices were stable this week at USD 10.2–10.7/kg for mono-grade polysilicon and USD 7.2–7.7/kg for multi-grade polysilicon, because there is still some level of demand and Chinese multi-Si wafer makers are hardly willing to buy polysilicon until polysilicon prices decline further.
While prices for mono-grade polysilicon have been trending downward since after China’s National Day, mono-Si wafer prices remain robust for G1 and M6 because of a balanced supply/demand equilibrium for the wafers. There is a shortage of G1 wafers since producers raised their production of M6 wafers during Q3 in response to growing demand for high-wattage modules. This week, mono-Si wafer prices were consistent with their previous levels in the market, staying at RMB 3.03–3.08/piece for G1 and RMB 3.18–3.23/piece for M6 in China, and USD 0.395–0.4/piece for G1 and USD 0.414–0.419/piece for M6 in non-Chinese markets.
With some multi-Si wafer makers having reopened since after the National Day and prices for multi-grade polysilicon going steady, multi-Si wafer prices were almost consistent with their pre-holiday levels, hovering at RMB 1.5–1.65/piece in China and USD 0.203–0.215/piece abroad. Despite their high levels, multi-Si wafer prices will soon trend downward—as multi demand is declining and some cell makers are concerned about the delays in the delivery of mid-efficiency wafers and the growing cost of raw materials.
With new deals mostly having been clinched before the National Day, mono-Si cell prices vary within a stable range. The price for M6 cells sits at RMB 0.92–0.93/W as there is some demand in the second half of this year, more new production lines are due to come online. Only a few October deals for M6 cells were clinched at RMB 0.9/W or below. Decreases in mono-Si cell prices will slow down in October, when demand is going to pick up and some capacities are due to switch to produce larger cells. As such, Q4 will see mono-Si cell prices remain within a certain range.
This week, a few module makers reverted to buying G1 cells amid a shortage of M6 cells. Moreover, because the shortage of PV glass has led to diminished production of G1 modules, demand for G1 cells has been shrinking and draw-in of the cells has been weakening. Thus, fewer G1 deals were clinched this week, with prices varying wildly. The price gap for G1 cells has widened further between Tier-1 and Tier-2 makers—staying at RMB 0.85–0.86/W for Tier-1 makers and RMB 0.82–0.83/W for Tier-1 makers. There are also deals struck at as low as RMB 0.81/W.
The inventory of mid-and-low efficiency multi-Si cells continued to bulge this week, pushing down prices marginally to RMB 2.6/piece. Meanwhile, as multi-Si cell prices can no longer decline further, some producers mull shutting multi-Si cell production lines by the end of this year.
Quite a few modules are being shipped in Q4, with bifacials accounting for a growing share of the total shipment. Against this backdrop, shortage of PV glass has become even more serious. The price for 3.2-mm coated glass has leapt from RMB 30/m2 in September to RMB 36–40/m2—to as high as RMB 41/m2 for some small orders because of the shortage. Moreover, shortage-induced increases in the PV glass price have made it difficult for module makers to deliver orders; some of them have even reduced their utilization rates.
With flourishing module demand in Q4, shortage of PV glass will persist until after the end of this year. Meanwhile, module prices for Q4 have been settled at RMB 1.58–1.6/W and USD 0.2–0.22/W after a flurry of negotiations during July–September. So, even though the PV glass price has surged, module prices are struggling to catch up—which makes it difficult for module producers to generate healthy profits in Q4.