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Chinese mono-Si module prices falling steadily amid slow demand recovery

Poly Price

Polysilicon prices did not change much over the first week after the end of China’s National Day holiday, with polysilicon prices staying at RMB 75/kg for mono-Si wafer and RMB 60/kg for multi-Si wafer. Despite small changes in the wafer market, the impact on supply and demand of polysilicon remains limited. Polysilicon prices may stay pretty much the same through October since demand from Chinese end users has recovered slower than anticipated. And in November, Chinese polysilicon makers that are currently undergoing maintenance may resume production, affecting polysilicon prices for multi-Si wafer if multi-Si cell market remains in the doldrums. As for polysilicon for mono-Si wafer, a small number will be impacted because a manufacturer overseas may again suspend production next month. On overseas business side, companies are now busy signing international sales contracts; the high price increased slightly, whereas overall foreign prices are stable.

Wafer Price

Multi-Si wafer makers are raising prices continuously after the holiday although the activity of shipping multi-Si cells has slowed. At present, the price of multi-Si wafer has come up to RMB 1.85-1.9/piece; however, the price trend will likely change considerably due to the slow downstream market. With stabilized polysilicon prices, whether multi-Si wafer market can hold up depends on the Chinese demand.

Having undergone negotiations in early October, the leading companies, Longi and Zhonghuan Solar, keep their pricing for mono-Si wafer unchanged, whereas the trading price saw continuous decline among tier-2 manufacturers. The trading price now sits below RMB 3.06/piece or even as low as RMB 3/piece. If the slow recovery continues, large mono-Si wafer manufacturers will have to reduce their pricing in response to increased inventories. In terms of cast mono, most of the products are priced at RMB 2.7-2.75/piece and USD 0.35-0.355/piece for overseas markets.

Cell Price

Cell prices have not changed much after the end of China’s holiday. The sales of mono-Si cells have so far been moderate. The high demand for larger cells drove manufacturers to adopt 166mm wafers in cell manufacturing lines expanded recently.  Lu’an, for example, has been adjusting its new 1.5 GW lines for standard and bifacial cells making from 166mm mono-Si wafer; the company’s total mono-Si cell capacity will amount to 5 GW adding the newly-installed lines. Impacted by declining prices in the downstream sector, cell makers have difficulty raising prices, and hence mono PERC cells based on M2 wafer were mostly traded at RMB 0.90-0.93/W. Despite being stable at RMB 0.81-0.82/W, multi-Si cell prices may move due to weakening demand; some cell makers are considering converting lines back to produce mono-Si cells.

Prices for overseas markets were projected to rise but remain flat as that in China at the end due to slow price movement. The recent price for mono PERC cell manufacturing from M2 wafer stays at USD 0.12-0.121/W.

Module Price

The tender results announced recently reflect that Chinese mono-Si module prices are still falling, with the market price came in at RMB 1.78-1.86/W for mono PERC modules. The price downtrend indicates that Chinese demand is recovering slowly, while quite a few module makers’ capacity for Q4 has not yet been fully booked. The price outlook for the short term is weak.

In terms of overseas markets, Trump administration’s policy U-turn – the removal of bifacial exemption announced on Oct. 5 by the U.S. Trade Representative – again sent China into tailspin. The policy change, which takes effect on Oct. 28, leaves manufacturers insufficient time to stock up goods. As a result, prices for bifacial modules are projected to rise along with the end of bifacial exemption under Section 201.

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