The supply-demand relationship between upstream sectors stabilized recently. Sellers and buyers maintain similar attitudes towards new orders. Overall, prices are little changed this week.
With the end of the peak procurement period for polysilicon, manufacturers shifted focus to order delivery and bulk shipment. Since mid-November, there has been a significant uptick in ingot utilization rates, led by professional wafer manufacturers, leading to a corresponding demand for polysilicon. On the spot market, polysilicon supply, particularly high-quality polysilicon for n-type ingot production, remained tight with delayed deliveries.
Similar to last week, polysilicon inventory levels did not show a significant increase. The supply of high-quality polysilicon and polysilicon from major manufacturers remained tight, with inventory concentrated among non-major manufacturers. The overall inventory level falls at an acceptable range, equivalent to seven to ten days of production. It is worth noting that fluctuations in ingot utilization rates in 1Q24 may affect polysilicon inventory levels.
Wafer prices continued to drop this week, with each format playing a different role in supply-demand dynamics, resulting in price disparity. P-type M10 wafers saw a sharp decline in demand due to the ongoing technology iteration. As prices collapsed, manufacturers have been accelerating the shift to n-type wafers. Additionally, 182mm and 183.75mm rectangular wafers are experiencing supply-demand mismatches. For n-type M10 wafers, despite recent slight declines in prices, supply and demand have remained relatively stable, for the declines are mostly driven by p-type wafer price drops. For 210mm wafers, prices are little changed due to more a concentrated supply.
Average wafer trading prices continued slow declines this week. P-type M10 wafer prices fell to RMB 2.1/piece, with mainstream prices touching the low-price range of last week, while prices for G12 ones remain RMB 3.3/piece. For n-type M10 wafers, trading prices moved downward in accordance with their p-type counterparts, albeit at slower paces due to the cell sector’s increasing demand for n-type wafers. Prices for n-type M10 cells fell to RMB 2.3/piece, with mainstream trading prices reaching the low-price range of last week. Trading prices for G12 wafers stabilized, mostly at RMB 3.35/piece.
The pessimistic price outlook is still subject to the extent of production cuts, which are likely in mid-December due to inventory issues. Meanwhile, price negotiations for p-type 210mm wafers are underway, with mainstream prices potentially dropping to RMB 3/piece next week.
Trading prices of p-type cells continued to decline this week, down 4-5% from last week. M10 cell trading prices fell into the low-price range of last week, mostly at RMB 0.38/W. G12 cells were traded at RMB 0.43/W after ongoing price decreases.
For n-type M10 cells, mainstream prices dropped slightly to RMB 0.48-0.49/W this week. G12 HJT cells, mostly for in-house use and less for external sales, saw prices come in at RMB 0.65-0.7/W for high-efficiency ones. Due to the continuous decline in demand for PERC 182mm products, the price difference between n-type and p-type cells widened, reaching RMB 0.1/W.
Today (13th), there are reports of an M10 cell price quote at RMB 0.45/W; whether it can become mainstream requires further attention. Still, with wafer prices falling, prices for M10 TOPCon cells may decline further next week.
Inventory levels vary among different cell manufacturers. Some saw a slow rise in inventory, with PERC being the majority, while a few maintained inventory levels within one week of production due to drastic production cuts. Due to poor profitability, most manufacturers have reduced the production of 182mm PERC cells. Some manufacturers modify production lines for 183.75mm rectangular cells, for which they believe market demand remains. Several manufacturers shut down outdated PERC production lines to stop cash losses.
The industry-wide unprofitability prompts manufacturers to come up with varying strategies and decisions. Some have reduced or shut down production, while others use their cash reserves to sustain production and compete for market share.
This week, module prices stabilized temporarily. For monofacial modules based on 182mm PERC cells, prices settled at RMB 0.9-1.03/W, approaching RMB 0.92-0.93/W for new orders. A few module makers have prices below RMB 0.9/W or even RMB 0.85/W on the table. For monofacial modules based on 210mm PERC cells, prices stood at RMB 1.03-1.1/W, reaching RMB 0.95-1/W for new orders. The price difference between modules based on 182mm and 210mm cells will gradually narrow after order completion and slowly diminish in the future.
TOPCon module prices ranged from RMB 0.9/W to RMB 1.18/W. Previous orders were delivered at RMB 1.08-1.18/W this week. Module makers began taking orders at RMB 0.98-1.05/W, potentially RMB 0.97-0.98 /W. Negotiations for next year's orders have seen price quotes of RMB 0.9/W, even RMB 0.88/W.
HJT prices remained stagnant due to cost concerns and its yet-to-fully-develop market. Prices currently range from RMB 1.25/W to RMB 1.35/W in China while holding steady at USD 0.160-0.170/W in non-China markets.
The focus of this week is the shift of overseas demand to TOPCon modules. With the onset of the off-season in overseas markets, the PERC module prices dropped to USD 0.12-0.13/W. There are reports of ongoing sell-offs still disrupting prices in non-China markets. Inventory levels in Europe remained high. Some module makers pull back or re-export inventories.