Orders for mono-grade polysilicon were mostly signed early in March, only several rush orders and sporadic orders are in negotiation in the middle of the month. With insufficient inventory left for manufacturers to sell, polysilicon is traded at RMB 115-120/kg in China and USD 14.5-15/kg in overseas markets, which has increased by another 5% over last week.
Polysilicon prices will hardly see marked decreases in the recent term as demand remains strong, and wafer prices rising further. The market will pay close attention to new price quotes released at the end of the month.
The lowered utilization rates in cell and module segments have not affected demand for wafers, which remains robust as polysilicon shortage pervades after the Lunar New Year. On March 15, leading mono-Si wafer manufacturer, Longi, raised their official pricings again by RMB 0.1-0.12/piece. Some mono-Si wafer companies followed suit, once again drove up overall pricings for mono-Si wafers. As no increases from another leading manufacturer, Zhonghuan, have been seen so far, prices for G12 (210mm) wafers stay where they were last week.
Multi-Si wafers, with their limited profits, also respond to polysilicon cost increases amid mono-grade polysilicon price hikes. This week, multi-Si wafers see chaotic price quotes and more evident price increases, with ruling prices sitting at RMB 1.35-1.45/piece.
In face of module makers’ shrinking procurements and the increasing volume of OEM and dual distribution model orders, cell prices stay the same as that of last week, being unable to react to this week’s another wafer price hike, from which the costs are absorbed by cell makers themselves.
The costs and wafer shortage have been pressuring cell makers. Therefore, in March, some of them are planning for manufacture line modification and maintenance, lowering utilization rates, and thus restrain outputs. Against these backdrops, Tier-2 and Tier-3 manufacturers rarely sign new orders and have been mostly fulfilling previous orders instead.
Small format cells, M2 and G1, see relatively greater trading volume than M6, as cell supply decreased amid continuing demand in March, with trading prices sitting at RMB 0.91-0.97/W. High-priced cells are traded at RMB 0.95-0.97/W, in response to price hikes across upstream supply chain.
M6 cells see smaller order volumes and inventory piling up, as module makers reduced purchases. This week, orders are mostly signed at previous prices, averaging RMB 0.85/W.
Business of large cells still rely on OEM and dual distribution model at present; the overall prices move relatively slowly. This week, the trading prices of M10 cells stay stable at RMB 0.88-0.9/W and RMB 0.89-0.91/W for G12 cells.
Multi-Si cell prices rise marginally this week to RMB 2.7-2.8/piece, which is mainly resulted from market disequilibrium caused by the shrinking multi-Si supply and expensive wafer prices.
Polysilicon’s price surge after the Lunar New Year has sent modules price quotes skyrocketing in and out of China. Many orders previously signed at lower prices are likely to be re-negotiated. Not only spot prices are on the rise, but price quotes for orders to be fulfilled in Q2 and Q3 are higher than the pre-Lunar New Year level. IRR of systems see consequent contractions. With the June 30 installation rush’s losing its touch being a variable, module manufacturers’ inventory levels slightly rise.
As a result, Tier-1 module makers further lowered utilization rates, to restrict inventory levels on one hand, and prevent continuous increases in polysilicon and wafer prices on the other. Presently, Tier-1 module makers’ overall utilization rates sit at around 70%, which is expected to remain so in April.