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Cell prices crash, no end in sight

Poly Price

This week saw slight declines in prices of polysilicon for mono-and multi-Si wafers in China, with the mainstream price of polysilicon for mono-Si wafers down to 75 RMB/kg and that of polysilicon for multi-Si wafers down to 57 RMB/kg. Adequate supply, coupled with weak demand from up-and downstream, has caused the pressure of price reduction across all segments to penetrate upstream. However, because the polysilicon market is on the whole more stable than the downstream side, there should be no indication of prices collapsing.

With some big polysilicon companies busy with adjusting the share of mono-Si products produced and several manufacturers with 10,000 tonne-scale production expected to undergo maintenance in August, the pressure of polysilicon prices for multi-Si wafers will ease after polysilicon deals are signed in early August and that for mono-Si wafers may stay constant owing to stable demand. On the basis of the current observation, polysilicon prices will keep fluctuating in August.

Polysilicon prices for both mono- and multi-Si wafers decreased this week; therefore, the price difference of the material remains to be 18 RMB/kg. Prices for polysilicon for mono-Si wafers typically stay under 60 RMB/kg, although the mainstream price of the which stands at the low end in comparison with its previous level.

Meanwhile, fluctuations in Chinese polysilicon prices drove down the overseas prices of polysilicon for mono-and multi-Si wafers respectively to USD 0.1 and 0.05/kg this week.

Wafer Price

As mono-Si cell prices plunged, multi-Si cell prices also declined, causing the pressure of price reduction to shift to the upstream side of the market. Consequently, China’s multi-Si cell prices fell by about 1% to RMB 1.83/piece. While some top-tier multi-Si cell manufacturers charge higher prices for their products, pricing of cells are in generally low in the market. Among second-tier cell makers, the mainstream price hovers between RMB 1.82-1.8 RMB/piece. Meanwhile, multi-Si wafer producers withstand no significant decline in production despite having absorbed shocks from downstream. With demand continuing to weaken, producers are more vulnerable to haggling. Additionally, considering polysilicon prices, wafer producers will soon have to safeguard their cash costs.

Prices for quasi-mono products rose somewhat in July and August, in comparison with what they were in June. Such products have a price/performance advantage. Prices for mono-Si products, which were fixed last week, did not change in any noticeable way. Overseas prices of multi-Si wafers fell under USD 0.25/piece this week, while their mainstream price came in at USD 0.249–0.248/piece. This week’s quotes for 158.75mm cast-mono wafer maintain its previous level at RMB 2.85–2,9/piece in China and USD 0.37–0.375/piece abroad.

Cell Price

As new PERC orders are being negotiated this August in China, noticeable drops in PERC cell prices continued into the current week, with prices for mainstream cell efficiency offering at RMB 0.93–0.98/W and more were sold for RMB 0.95/W. Such a price level has broken even for older PERC production lines, prompting a prediction of increased reduction in production volume. Moreover, because demand stagnates, it remains difficult to reduce bulky inventories, although producers have been decelerating their production since July. Therefore, some manufacturers now offer PERC cells as low as RMB 0.90–0.93/W in the Chinese market.

Considering wafer prices and the cost levels of older production lines since the late July, profits from multi-Si cells are slightly higher than those from mono PERC ones, driving some manufacturers to switch mono PERC production lines back to produce multi-Si cells. Yet, against this backdrop, the supply of multi-Si cells increased a bit, further outstripping the still-stagnant demand for cells and thus preventing them from recovering from price crash. As a result, the market price for conventional multi-Si cells has fallen to RMB0.82–0.85/W.

Module Price

China’s demand for modules shows no marked increase. To secure orders, module producers at home have submitted haphazardly prepared price quotes these days. This has widened the gap between submitted bids and secured prices. Notably, recent quotes for mono PERC modules mostly range between RMB1.95-2 RMB/W, and the overall price is spiraling downward.

Considering the time needed for preparations, Chinese module demand will not change much until this September, when the demand is tipped to recover quickly and the high season for undertaking overseas business begins. Accordingly, demand for module is expected to reach its highest level of the year in Q4 and rebound from a substantial fall between September and October across the supply chain.

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