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Updated May 12, 2021

Polysilicon price

May prices for mono-grade polysilicon negotiated at the end of April already came in at RMB 150-163/kg, while trading prices between major manufacturers following the Labor Day holiday reach RMB 160-170/kg. As shortage pervades, price hikes see no sign of stopping, with sporadic orders signed at RMB 170-180/kg in the second week of May. In the overseas markets, trading prices rapidly surge, closing at USD 21-22/kg; some non-China polysilicon materials were traded at USD 24/kg, with the figure continually rising.

Polysilicon prices kept breaking new records each week despite mild end user demand, resulting in even more unpredictable price trends for the second half of the year. However, as some polysilicon makers’ equipment maintenances in May affected production volumes and ingot pulling production capacity continue coming online during Q2-Q3, mono-grade polysilicon price increases will not cease.

Multi-grade polysilicon had not seen evident price fluctuation, as manufacturers were fulfilling previous orders. However, in the latest negotiations, prices already came in at RMB 100/kg, driving up production costs for multi-Si wafers significantly. 

Wafer price

As polysilicon shortage pervades, leading mono-Si wafer makers can hardly maintain utilization rates due to insufficient polysilicon supply, even with larger volumes of long-term polysilicon supply orders signed. Generally, wafer manufacturers, big and small, are not able to run at full capacity. Meanwhile, cell makers have been reported on wafer manufacturers’ failure to fulfil long-term orders.

On May 10, amid insufficient mono-Si wafer supply, Zhonghuan raised price quotes again, with G1 and M6 wafers (170 um) and G12 wafers (175 um) being priced at RMB 4.26, 4.445, and 7.23/piece, respectively, indicating 8% of price increase for G1 and M6 and 9% for G12, compared to the RMB 3.93/piece for G1 wafers and M6 wafers (170 um) and RMB 6.63 for G12 wafers (175 um) official pricings at the end of April.

Longi is likely to raise price quotes in accordance with increasing polysilicon price, which has surged by RMB 30-40/kg since the beginning of April.

Multi-Si wafers continue to see prices increase amid polysilicon price hikes, despite Indian demand slightly slowed, due to the end of fiscal year and severe pandemic. Recently, trading prices already rose to RMB 2.25-2.35/piece from the RMB 1.8-1.9/piece in early April, a monthly increase of more than 20%. 

Cell price 

Leading wafer manufacturers have raised official pricing twice at the end of April. In the second week of May, cell makers renegotiated orders, revising cell price quotes upwardly, by RMB 1/W and above. Presently, some orders were already signed, with several medium and small-sized module makers having higher acceptability. Price divergence emerged in the orders signed by Tier-1 and Tier-2 manufacturers. This week, prices for M6, M10, and G12 cells started approaching to the same level.

Following the Labor Day holiday, prices for M6 cells came in at RMB 0.92-0.93/W. After Zhonghuan’s two consecutive rounds of listing price updates, cell prices were raised to RMB 0.97-1/W; quite a few orders were already signed at averagely RMB 0.97-0.98/W, while some were signed at RMB 0.99-1/W. Orders currently negotiated are forecast to be signed at RMB 0.99-1/W. Prices overseas response at a slower pace, seeing milder increases than in China. However, with the upward trend continuing, prices overseas will rise marginally in the short term.

This week, trading prices for G1 cells rose to RMB 0.95-1/W, averaged at RMB 0.98-1/W. As demand for G1 cells see dramatic declines, production volume went down accordingly. Prices will have limited room for further increases.

Larger format cell prices go up accordingly, with price quotes reaching RMB 0.97-1/W this week, and new orders signed at RMB 0.97-0.99/W. Presently, few orders for 182 mm cells were already signed at RMB 1/W. However, business of large cells still relies on OEM and dual distribution model at present; trading volumes are rather weak with low direct purchase amounts and weak inventory draws. Major module makers still hold reserved attitudes in procurements.

Average prices for multi-Si cells surged to RMB 3.6-3.8/piece, driven by upstream price hikes and a rather balanced supply-demand relationship. Given the pandemic in India and the module sector’s cost durability, price increases will slow afterwards.

Module price

Glass prices continue to drop amid low utilization rates in the module sector, returning to their low point before price hikes last year. However, another wave of module price hike is brewing, as BOM only brought limited price reductions and polysilicon prices exceed the RMB 160/kg threshold. In recent procurements, bid prices for monofacial modules with a power output exceeding 500 W from Tier-1 manufacturers came in at RMB 1.71-1.75/W, averaging at around RMB 1.73/W.

On the spot market, smaller orders for distributed generation projects were signed at RMB 1.75-1.8/W, showing a slow downward trend, as compared to the RMB 1.68-1.72/W during March and April.

As prices in the up and midstream drive up module production costs, some module makers decided to adjust utilization rates in response, while some must sustain utilization rates and procure cells to fulfill June 30 orders. In the meantime, with ongoing price negotiations within the domestic market, the overall situation has been stuck in gridlock.

Despite overseas PV stations can hardly give in regarding IRR, module prices for overseas markets will slightly rise in the recent term, as manufacturers lifting prices amid polysilicon, wafer, and cell price hikes.

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