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Supply-demand imbalances lead to PERC cell prices plunge

Poly Price

While polysilicon prices for mono-Si wafers remain unchanged this week, that for multi-Si wafers declined marginally, widening the price difference to RMB 18/kg. Overall prices of polysilicon for multi-Si wafers are below RMB 60/kg, while market price sits at RMB 58/kg. The larger price difference drove some companies to use raw materials of lower quality to reduce cost. Because of that, demand and prices were kept from falling, though unintentionally. This month, polysilicon prices for multi-Si wafers are expected to stabilize slowly, while that for mono-Si wafers may remain stable after new mono-Si wafer capacities come online.

For overseas markets, prices of polysilicon for mono-Si wafers remain unchanged this week. Prices of polysilicon for multi-Si wafers, however, declined slightly due to a slump in Chinese prices, with overall prices sitting below USD 7/kg.

Wafer Price

Despite a continued fall in mono-Si cell prices, mono-Si wafers are still in short supply. Owing to the higher demand, small-sized mono-Si wafer suppliers can price their products higher than those of leading companies. Some manufacturers that produce both mono- and multi-Si wafers even sell mono- and multi-Si wafer as a package to increase sales of multi-Si wafer. At the moment, demand for mono- and multi-Si wafers is moving in opposite direction.

As for multi-Si wafer, although some of the top-tier manufacturers have managed to keep prices at a higher level, prices in general reflected a downtrend. As demand continues to decline, the pricing of second-tier makers was falling at a faster pace. That led to market instability and a pessimistic outlook for late July. Nevertheless, some cell makers have switched their mono-Si production lines back to multi-Si recently. It remains to be seen whether such action could drive up multi-Si wafer demand in mid-to-late July. This week, average prices of multi-Si wafers dropped RMB 1 fen/piece to RMB 1.86/piece. For cast-mono wafer, the reference price for 158.75mm is RMB 2.85-2.9/piece in China and USD 0.37-0.375/piece in overseas markets.

Cell Price

As end-user demand will stay weak in July through early August, oversupply will remain an issue in the PERC cell market. The increased level of stock led to another price drop despite prices have declined significantly last week, with prices decreased by RMB 0.04-0.05/W to RMB 1.05-1.07/W this week. Such a price level has pushed down the profit margin to single digit for older PERC production lines. If prices continue to go down next week, it will soon reach break-even point.

As module prices also went down slightly, module makers continued to put pressure on cell prices. Since cell makers’ facilities haven’t been fully booked for July, they are likely to keep lowering prices to increase sales next week. However, prices may decline by less than 3% as they are coming close to hit the break-even level for older PERC production lines.

Due to a significant decline in mono PERC prices, multi-Si cell prices also went down slightly. Average prices of conventional multi-Si cell now touched RMB 0.86/W.

Manufacturers now also offered trade discounts for overseas markets, with trading price sitting at USD 0.145-0.15/W this week. Since it’s difficult for Taiwanese cell makers to purchase enough wafers, they have reduced production. Prices for the U.S. market, on the other hand, remained high at USD 0.175/W owing to strong demand.

Module Price

Since it takes time to process paperwork, Chinese module demand is unlikely to increase significantly until September. With demand remaining weak in July through August, module makers are still under-booked. Therefore, not only Chinese prices declined, but also overseas markets have begun to fall marginally for some orders, with trading price coming in at USD 0.26-0.27/W.

As Chinese demand is expected to revive rapidly in September, while overseas markets will enter the high season, demand is forecast to slowly bounce back from the end of August. Therefore, overseas module prices won’t decrease substantially despite the weak demand over these months.

PV Glass Price

Between late June and early July, the market saw a slight increase in PV glass for few orders. However, as demand in July is weaker than in June, PV glass manufacturers decided to keep prices at the previous level after the industry meeting ended. This month, market prices didn’t go up as anticipated in June, with trading price staying constant from last month at RMB 26.2-26.5 per square meter. Prices are also unlikely to fluctuate much until prices are negotiated again at the end of the month.

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