This week, polysilicon buyers and sellers were mostly delivering previous orders amid intensified market sensitivity, with a new round of price negotiations yet to begin.
Mono-grade polysilicon prices hovered at RMB 269/kg; not much price movement was seen in China and abroad. On the supply side, major polysilicon makers’ utilization rates and production output remained stable, and they will bring new capacity online as scheduled at the end of the year. Real production will increase in Q1 2022. Capacity utilization in the wafer segment remains relatively low in Q4, lowering demand for polysilicon.
While each segment expects polysilicon prices to fall, the anticipation for the degree and pace of price decrease varies. Silicon metal prices across material codes saw marked decline, but whether the decrease in raw materials can reflect on polysilicon prices is determined by buyers and sellers, whose requirements are quite different. It’s expected that they will remain in a standoff after early December, when a new round of negotiations begins.
Wafer production remained relatively stable. Factors including pressure from different level of stocked inventory, judgement on the market situation, and an attempt to mitigate losses incurred by price decreases amid high inventory contributed to dramatic price movements for 182mm mono-Si wafers since mid-November. Prices for other sizes, such as 166mm and 210mm wafers, were rather stable due to limited trading volumes.
Although leading wafer manufacturers have not adjusted prices recently, the actual trading prices for 182mm mono-Si wafers fell significantly. The average prices declined to RMB 6.4/piece, and that in the low-price range ranged from RMB 6.25/piece to RMB 6.35/piece. There’s little difference between price quoted by Tier-1 and Tier-2 manufacturers.
Overall, the 182mm format saw a significant downward price trend. U.S. dollars for 182mm wafers align with that in China, as market acceptance remains limited. In terms of wafer thickness, the mainstream products are switching to165μm. Price decreases also varied in accordance with different wafer thickness.
The 166mm format waned due to lower demand and production, as well as increasing concentration of supply and demand in overseas markets. As a result, publication of US prices for the 166mm format will be cancelled.
Prices in the upstream segment slightly dipped, with the market in a wait-and-see mode. Prices may decline further in December. This week, only medium and small-sized module makers made small purchases. Purchase volume of 166mm cells is expected to decrease in December, due to lowered module production and demand.
The average prices for the format continued to fall this week, arriving at RMB 1.08-1.1/W; the low-price range saw RMB 1.05-1.06/W. Next week, the average prices are expected to come in at RMB 1.05-1.06/W, while 182mm cells will hover at RMB 1.14-1.15/W. However, as module makers continue to cut purchase volumes and price decreases become pronounced in the upstream segments, the average prices are forecast to reach RMB 1.12-1.14/W next week. Prices for 210mm cells, on the other hand, stayed at RMB 1.1-1.12/W this week, due to fewer buyers and low trading activity.
Sluggish demand for multi-Si products in India made it difficult for most manufacturers to offer quotes. Moreover, manufacturers opt to wait and see, as the downward price trend become increasingly pronounced. This week, multi-Si cells reduced to RMB 3.6-3.75/piece. Considering difficulty in acquiring multi-Si wafers, price trends will be treated conservatively.
Modules were delivered with prices agreed previously at the end of November. Trading prices slightly declined this week, with 166mm glass-backsheet modules averaged at RMB 2-2.02/W and glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W averaged at RMB 2.04-2.05/W. However, some module makers, in the face of inventory pressure, cleared inventory in advance in mid-November. There’s a RMB 0.01-0.03/W of price difference between trading prices and the average prices.
Demand appeared rather sluggish for November and December. Prices for 166mm modules may see faster decline, as demand shifts to larger formats. Demand for modules with a power output exceeding 500 W shows no sign of recovery. Some major manufacturers considered trimming down production output for December. To secure orders and sell out inventories amid sapping demand, module makers offered lower price quotes, which dipped under RMB 2/W. Price range may come in at RMB 1.96-2/W in December, with Tier-1 makers sustaining prices at RMB 1.98-2/W.
Price declines have not penetrated overseas markets, where prices stabilized for the time being. 166mm modules, having some previously signed orders yet to be delivered and corresponding supply and demand volumes, saw prices declining at a slower pace, sitting at the same price range as modules rated beyond 500 W. Utility-scale projects sealed orders for glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W at USD 0.25-0.255/W previously, while new orders for which were signed at USD 0.28-0.285/W. Few new orders were signed for the fourth quarter, as overseas markets were more in a wait and see mode. Prices in some distributed markets slightly lose ground, coming in at USD 0.285-0.29/W.