Polysilicon price trend is steady this week, as manufacturers are mostly delivering orders. Mainstream average prices for mono-grade polysilicon come in at RMB 240-246/kg, with prices for recycled polysilicon scrap sitting slightly higher, and other polysilicon slightly lower. As polysilicon consumptions of ingot manufacturers vary, polysilicon costs will see small differences.
Polysilicon supply remains stable in March, with only slight increases on levels in February. Manufacturers scheduled line inspections and modifications in recent terms, affecting monthly production output to various degrees.
As of the end of first quarter, new production capacities commissioned earlier this year are still gradually coming online and will run at full capacity by the second quarter.
Therefore, the increase of actual supply volumes still falls short of theoretical production capacity. Line inspections and modifications lead to decreases in production volumes as well.
Utilization rates of ingot facilities rise more significantly in the first quarter, driving up polysilicon consumption, effectively depleting polysilicon inventories piled up earlier this year.
Despite some incremental momentum of the ingot sector’s polysilicon consumption in the second quarter, the release of new capacities will contribute the most to the increasing polysilicon demand. By then, polysilicon shortage will ease, but excess supply is not likely.
Mono-Si wafer prices remain stable this week, with no dramatic fluctuation half a month after the last round of wafer price hikes. However, recent pandemic outbreaks and stricter restrictions in several regions have dealt a blow to delivery and logistic efficiency, as locations of ingot facilities are relatively concentrated.
Prices come in at RMB 8.85/piece for 210mm wafers with a thickness of 160μm, and at RMB 6.7/piece for the 182mm/165μm format. As production schedules and pricing strategies vary among manufacturers, the 166mm/165μm format, with less of which circulating on the market, sees a wider price range, which sits at around RMB 5.45-5.55/piece. The 166mm/165μm format may secure some market share this year, but with faster declines.
Faced with obstinately high raw material costs, the wafer sector ramps up the development of thinner wafers. As of the end of first quarter, 182mm wafers advance towards 160μm of thickness; some manufacturers even venture for 155μm of thickness. Meanwhile, 210mm wafers have transitioned from 160μm to 155μm of thickness. In the second quarter, manufacturers will put more efforts into developing thinner n-type wafers.
Prices stay at last week’s levels this week, owing to limited downstream acceptance. As of this Wednesday, trading prices for M6 and M10 cells came in at RMB 1.08-1.11/W and RMB 1.13-1.15/W, respectively. G12 cells saw lower trading volumes this week, with prices sitting at RMB 1.14-1.17/W. For cells in these three formats, prices averaged at RMB 1.1/W, RMB 1.14/W, and RMB 1.15/W.
Prices for M6 cells of some manufacturers start to slip, as demand shrinks amidst size transition. M10 cells remain mainstream but with prices challenging acceptance of the module sector, and thus can hardly increase further. For G12 cells, sellers and buyers continue negotiating, as prices stay elevated this week.
In China, the Covid-19 pandemic intensifies, disrupting logistics everywhere, making access to wafers increasingly difficult. Cell manufacturers are poised to cut utilization rates, given stymied price increases and possible inventory accumulation during March and April, due to logistic issues and waning purchasing activities from the downstream.
If the pandemic rages on, cell and module sectors will continue bargaining amid polysilicon shortage. However, cell prices are expected to sustain, as module makers cannot accept higher prices.
Multi-Si cell prices start to slip, given lower demand this week, sitting at RMB 3.65-3.8/piece and USD 0.52-0.54/piece in overseas markets.
Module makers continue revising prices for the second quarter, expecting to raise them by RMB 0.01-0.02/W. Few orders are delivered this week, given higher prices, end users’ limited purchasing ability, and the pandemic-induced logistic logjam, which makes it difficult for end users to access modules.
The module sector still faces a double whammy of limited end user acceptance and supply chain price hikes. Trading prices for glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W marginally rise to RMB 1.87-1.93/W for distributed projects and sustain at RMB 1.81-1.85/W for utility-scale projects, where orders were signed previously. Still, order volumes in March are low.
Inventory draw from utility-scale projects is weak. Only distributed projects in regions with better revenues purchase in small volumes. Glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W and their glass-glass counterparts see RMB 0.02-0.04/W of differences in mainstream prices.
In Europe, glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W are delivered at USD 0.265-0.275/W this month, hitting a record high last week as the euro weakened. Delivering prices stop going up this week, as subject to wavering end user acceptance. Further advances may upset demand in April.
Prices in the U.S. sustain at USD 0.32-0.35/W (FOB). End users are still reserved, considering policy uncertainties, such as decision of the U.S. Commerce to either accept or reject the Petition’s request for anti-circumvention investigation, which should be announced in recent terms.
The Asia-Pacific region sees module prices stabilize for the time being, sitting at USD 0.255-0.266/W for glass-backsheet modules rated beyond 500 W. In Australia, module prices come in at USD 0.275-0.29/W.