Polysilicon spot prices have been rising since the end of the Lunar New Year holiday. Manufacturers change price quotes faster. Many of them update price quotes on a daily basis. As ingot production and utilization rates increase, inelastic demand for polysilicon is stronger, forcing buyers to accept higher prices. Downstream sectors have been testing the endurance of downstream manufacturers and end users.
This week, polysilicon manufacturers raise price quotes to RMB 240-260/kg. Small volumes of polysilicon are traded at the high-price range, pushing the average price to RMB 230/kg, a 29.2% week-on-week increase. Buyers with varying purchase volumes can accept different levels of prices. Some buyers find the current price level acceptable, while some do not. Overall, polysilicon prices markedly advance.
In February, polysilicon inventory depletes as manufacturers settle negotiations and seal orders. However, manufacturers still have some backlogs on hand, which can be taken by n-type wafer manufacturers in need of high-quality polysilicon. Even so, polysilicon inventory level is concerning, making it more difficult for manufacturers to reach a deal.
On February 4, leading mono-Si wafer manufacturer Zhonghuan raised official pricings. Mono-Si wafer prices, already on the verge of rising last week, shoot up as other major manufacturers and Tier-2, Tier-3 peers followed suit. Some raised price quotes from RMB 5.4/piece to RMB 6.22/piece for 182mm wafers with a thickness of 150μm, whilst some adopt more flexible business models by delivering orders first and determining prices afterward.
As of this Wednesday, wafer shortage on the spot market persists, with both 182mm and 210mm wafer supply remaining tight.
It takes more time for wafer production volume to rise, for ingot manufacturing process is lengthier. Doubled with currently huge gap between the high and low points of polysilicon prices, the ingot segment’s inelastic polysilicon demand and concerns about polysilicon price trend push upstream negotiations into deadlock. The imbalanced wafer supply and demand will last until mid-February. Wafer prices are not likely to drop in the short term.
As upstream negotiations intensify, and wafer trading prices keep trending up, cell manufacturers update price quotes every day. As of this Wednesday, manufacturers have raised price quotes to RMB 1.15/W and are in talks for even higher price quotes.
Cell trading prices continue rising in line with wafer price hikes this week, coming in at RMB 1.13-1.15/W for M10 and G12 cells, a 16-17% increase. A few Tier-2 module makers find the increased prices too high and decide to slow down purchases.
In the short term, cell manufacturers may keep raising prices, passing on cost pressure amid ongoing upstream negotiations. Further price hikes hinge on inventory draws and production plans of the module sector.
Dramatic upstream price trend sends up wafer and cell prices this week. Meantime, BOM prices surge. The module sector is faced with a similar crisis. Module makers have raised price quotes to RMB 1.8-1.85/W this week. However, few new orders are closed. This week, orders are delivered at RMB 1.7-1.85/W, with the high-price range coming in at RMB 1.82-1.85/W.
Price swings across the supply chain put off the market. Module makers have yet to seal new orders, mostly delivering previous orders. Some developers announce that they will not sign new orders until later. End users, with limited acceptance for higher prices, settle into their chairs and wait for negotiations to work out. The recovery of demand in China will be postponed again.
In overseas markets, module prices sustain at USD 0.2-0.23/W (FOB) for ground-mounted projects. Module makers hope to seal future orders at USD 0.22-0.23/W. However, deliveries are few as overseas demand has yet to pick up completely. Europe slows down deliveries due to previously piled-up inventory.
N-type cell and module
Price quotes for n-type cells rise in line with wafer price hikes. Further increases are likely. This week, deeper n-type wafer shortage forces manufacturers previously selling p-type and n-type cells at the same price to adjust to deal with higher production costs. M10 TOPCon cells are priced at RMB 1.19-1.2/W, and G12 HJT cells at RMB 1.3-1.7/W. For the latter, there isn’t a new price range due to low order volume this week.
G12 HJT modules see prices pick up, coming in at RMB 2-2.1/W and USD 0.265-0.28/W. For M10 TOPCon modules, prices come in at RMB 1.73-1.85/W and USD 0.235-0.245/W.