From this week onwards, InfoLink will stop posting price quotes for M6 products, as market share of M6 products dwindles.
From this week onwards, price quotes for cells will be based on 23.0% efficiency.
Inventory has been piling up since mid-December, reaching a considerable level by the beginning of 2023. To date, leading polysilicon manufacturers keep high utilization rates. Polysilicon prices plunge as orders are delivered at previous price quotes. Given that, some Tier-2 and Tier-3 manufacturers may cut production. Still, effective polysilicon production volume will increase as manufacturers keep bringing new production capacities online.
Supply keeps increasing. Demand is still shrinking due to previous reduction in utilization rates of the ingot segment. Buyers seal orders at leisure. Price negotiations continue. At the end of January, polysilicon inventory will remain high and build up further, despite potentially increasing shipping volume of the month.
As noted last week, the reversal of supply-demand relationship and plummeting prices across upstream sectors give rise to new business models and forms of cooperation, such as adjusting supply volume and prices. Not all leading manufacturers like these changes, but compromises have been made to secure shipment and maintain strategic collaboration with clients in the face of a wafer price rout.
This week, polysilicon prices plunge as orders are delivered at previous price quotes. The volume of new orders remains low. Trading prices of last week show polysilicon prices officially drop lower than RMB 200/kg. Some Tier-2 and Tier-3 manufacturers can hardly seal any order. Polysilicon prices are likely to continue falling significantly before the Lunar New Year holiday. Competition has been heating up. In 2023, the gap between prices of Tier-1 and other manufacturers and the divergence of supply will only widen and intensifies faster.
Wafer prices keep falling chaotically. For 182mm wafers with a thickness of 150μm, the high price stood at RMB 4.4/piece last week. This week, prices drop faster, with the low price coming in at RMB 3.6/piece.
InfoLink’s weekly price summary reflects price trend from the previous Thursday to this Wednesday. Order signing condition of Tier-1 manufacturers is to be considered as well. As of this Wednesday, the average price dropped to RMB 3.9/piece, a 21.2% week-on-week decline. Wafer prices may dip even lower but will sustain less decrease in the future.
According to industry feedback during the first two working days of this week, price declines for 182mm mono-Si wafers may lose momentum and gradually come to an end. This can be attributed to two reasons. Firstly, from the supply perspective, wafer supply decreases after the ingot segment trimmed down utilization rates. Secondly, from the demand perspective, as revenues recover, thanks to stark wafer price decline, buyers may go bottom fishing and resell immediately.
Given the inelastic demand of stockpiling before the Lunar New Year holiday, wafer shipping volume will increase before the Lunar New Year holiday, despite rainy and snowy weather that disrupts logistics in Northern China and the Covid-19 outbreak. That is to say, wafer supply and demand are benignly contradictory at a time of relatively low utilization rates.
However, in the long run, excess supply of “effective” wafer production capacity deepens. A surplus of ingot production capacity is likely, even after phasing out furnaces for wafers in smaller formats. In 2023, striking a balance between utilization rates and prices becomes more of a pressing issue. Supply and product quality of n-type wafers is to be heeded as well.
An excess cell supply persists in January due to still sluggish end user demand. Doubled with rapid wafer price declines, cell prices stay on last week’s fast downward trend, plunging by 15% this week. Module makers see profit margins recover.
Both M10 and G12 cells are traded at RMB 0.78-0.82/W this week. For M6 cells, InfoLink stops posting price quotes from this week onwards as market share of which slumps.
As for production plans, most cell manufacturers intend to cut utilization rates to around 70-80% for the Lunar New Year holiday. Only few will keep running at full capacity to fulfill orders. As prices plummet in the recent two weeks, cutting production also serves as a measure to put a brake on ceaseless price declines.
The Chinese market starts 2023 with lackluster demand. Order volume is rather low in January. Module prices will drop more evidently during January and February, as noted last week.
This week, orders are mostly delivered at RMB 1.8-1.9/W of previous price range. Some previous orders are delivered at RMB 1.9/W. Still, renegotiations are likely, given rapid price declines across the supply chain.
Due to the Lunar New Year holiday, most new orders for the first quarter are not to be delivered until February. For these orders, module makers offer price quotes at RMB 1.68-1.78/W.
Module makers change production plans recently. The original plan was to cut production in January for the Lunar New Year holiday. However, resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic upset production output in December. Meanwhile, price declines across the supply chain stabilize. Against these backdrops, some Tier-1 module makers expect demand to pick up in the future and are poised to raise utilization rates in January again. Overall, vertically integrated companies keep utilization rates at 70-80%, and Tier-2 and Tier-3 ones at 50-60%. BOM prices, especially encapsulant prices, sit lower than before. Some module makers plan to stock up in advance.
N-type cell and module
PERC cell prices are in disorder, dropping successively this week, affecting n-type cell prices. Meantime, low demand in January pressures n-type cell prices. For G12 HJT cells, there isn’t a new fixed price range this week, with prices sustaining at previous levels at RMB 1.28-1.35/W. Some M10 TOPCon cell makers opt for selling p-type and n-type cells at the same price. However, prices have yet to settle due to chaotic PERC cell price trend.
Module prices are little changed in January amid low demand. There is no new quote for G12 HJT modules, of which prices sustain at RMB 2-2.2/W. For M10 TOPCon modules, prices come in at RMB 1.91-2/W in China and USD 0.24-0.25/W in overseas markets.