Intense price negotiations between polysilicon and wafer sectors were already in play before the Lunar New Year holiday. Judgments and decisions vary among manufacturers, who deplete inventories with different strategies. Against this backdrop, polysilicon price trend polarizes.
Tier-2 and some Tier-1 manufacturers deliver orders more actively. Trading prices reached RMB 120-130/kg before the Lunar New Year holiday, while mainstream prices sit at around RMB 150/kg. Some manufacturers take a different approach, sustaining price quotes at higher levels. Thanks to wafer price rally and recovered demand for polysilicon, manufacturers who deliver orders at lower prices see inventory levels drop rapidly, while others still have higher inventories at hand.
The polysilicon sector is more concentrated. Some manufacturers have raised price quotes markedly to RMB 180-220/kg or even higher levels. Wafer manufacturers have no choice but to accept to sustain production. Orders are sealed at varying prices after the Lunar New Year holiday. The range between high prices and low prices widens, with the former hitting RMB 220/kg, whilst the latter consists of previous orders and orders being delivered currently. This week, mainstream polysilicon prices are up 18.7% from a week earlier, coming in at RMB 178/kg. Negotiations intensify among major manufacturers.
Mono-Si wafer prices rallied before buyers stockpiled for the Lunar New Year holiday. Wafer shortage did not ease but intensified after the holiday, for manufacturers and traders are reluctant to sell as they expect prices to advance further amid short supply in the first half of February.
Prices for 182mm mono-Si wafers with a thickness of 150μm rose by 8% from RMB 4.5/piece to RMB 4.8/piece during the holiday. Some rush orders on the spot market were delivered at prices higher than RMB 5/piece. Meantime, prices for 210mm/150μm mono-Si wafers rose by 7% from RMB 5.8/piece to RMB 6.2/piece. As of this Wednesday, wafer supply remains tight. The increase of wafer production volume takes time due to lengthier ingot manufacturing process. Doubled with mixed polysilicon prices and the ingot segment’s inelastic demand for polysilicon and concerns over polysilicon price trend, upstream sectors are caught in a negotiation impasse. Therefore, it remains unclear when wafer supply will pick up.
The wafer sector has kept lower utilization rates in recent months, while demand is expected to rebound after the Lunar New Year holiday. As a result, wafer supply falls short of demand from the cell sector.
Cell trading prices rise in line with wafer price trend this week, coming in at RMB 0.95-0.98/W for M10 cells. Most cell manufacturers suspend delivery to weigh new pricings. A few of them update pricings in advance, raising price quotes to RMB 1/W or even higher levels.
This month, cell prices will stabilize and are less likely to return to a downward trend. Actual fluctuations hinge on negotiations among upstream sectors. Faced with the transitory wafer shortage, cell manufacturers may have to cut production, despite wishing to leave no capacity idle and no products unsold.
Manufacturers expected end user demand to pick up in February and March. However, price swings across the supply chain put off the market. During the Lunar New Year holiday, the low-price range of module prices dipped to RMB 1.6-1.7/W. After the holiday, price quotes are raised, some from RMB 1.65/W to RMB 1.7-1.75/W, and may reach beyond RMB 1.8/W this month.
Module makers, unnerved by lingering uncertainties across the supply chain, have yet to seal new orders. In February and March, module prices may sustain at RMB 1.75-1.8/W and are not likely to return to levels higher than RMB 1.8/W.
In overseas markets, module prices are at USD 0.2-0.23/W (FOB) for ground-mounted projects. The figure also declined during the holiday, coming in at USD 0.19-0.20/W. After the holiday, module makers increase prices, hoping to seal future orders at USD 0.22-0.23/W. Still, deliveries are few as overseas demand has yet to pick up completely.
N-type cell and module
Price quotes for n-type cells rise in line with wafer price hikes after the holiday. Further increases are likely. For G12 HJT cells, there isn’t a new price range due to low order volume this week. Some M10 TOPCon cell makers opt for selling p-type and n-type cells at the same price of RMB 0.95-1.05/W.
A few new orders are delivered this month. Prices slid for G12 HJT modules this week, coming in at RMB 1.9-2.1/W in China and USD 0.265-0.275/W in overseas markets. For M10 TOPCon modules, prices come in at RMB 1.78-1.88/W and USD 0.235-0.245/W.