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Sluggish demand prompts multi supply chain to slash utilization rates ahead of Chinese New Year

Poly Price

Multi-Si wafer makers in China are operating with increasingly lower utilization rates as the end-market demand for multi products remains persistently weak and the Chinese New Year is approaching. Consequently, Tier-2 and Tier-3 makers of polysilicon for multi-Si wafers have to undersell their mainstream products at a spot price of under RMB 45/kg to reduce inventory. Tier-1 polysilicon makers still keep their quotes above RMB 50/kg . There exists a significant inverse relationship between the market price and the production costs defrayed by Tier-2 and Tier-3 makers of polysilicon for multi-Si wafers. If the polysilicon price for multi-Si wafers remains low, numerous polysilicon producers would have to reduce their production volumes or even close down. 

The Chinese polysilicon price for mono-Si wafers held up strong and came in at RMB 71–74/kg this week, thanks to the inventory draw by the end market. It may remain stable before and after the Chinese New Year holiday.

Overseas polysilicon prices differed this week between mono-Si and multi-Si wafers. Polysilicon for mono-Si wafers sold well, but its market price fell marginally by USD 0.1/kg as a result of a small price decline in China in the previous week. Polysilicon for multi-Si wafers saw far fewer deals clinched, with its price staying at the previous week’s level.

Wafer Price

The Chinese price for multi-Si wafers also declined this week, having come in at RMB 1.47–1.55/piece and averaged RMB 1.52/piece. All signs now indicate that the polysilicon price for multi-Si wafers could remain stable in the market until the Chinese New Year holiday, allowing multi-Si wafers to sustain less price decline. The overseas price for multi-Si wafers declined across the board this week as contracts were signed one after another. It came in at USD 0.202–0.208/piece in the market.

Thanks to stable end-market demand and a small wave of inventory draw ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday, mono-Si wafers are running low in supply, with their prices going up among some small producers. Mono-Si wafers sell well in the market, driving down the number of orders clinched at a price lower than RMB 3/piece. So, the mono-Si wafer price could hover at RMB 2.98–3.06/piece even after the Chinese New Year holiday.

Cast mono wafers have not made much sales these days, mainly because mono-Si wafers have been an easy sell and their market share is growing fast. To improve its end-market demand, the sole supplier of cast mono wafers had lowered its price for customers at home and abroad. This week’s price for cast mono wafers was RMB 2.55–2.6/piece in China and USD 0.33–0.335/piece in overseas markets.

Cell Price

As the safeguard duty is going to be reduced at the end of this January, India had a less-busy-than-forecast period at the end of last year—with multi-Si cells, hit by weak demand, still selling at a jumble of bargain prices. The market price for multi-Si cells stayed at around RMB 2.7/piece but producers with bulging stocks go for RMB 2.65–2.7/piece. 

Multi-Si cells that stay at a market price of RMB 2.7–2.75/piece receive limited demand and sustain the expectations of module makers for price decline. However, it remains to be seen whether demand for multi-Si cells would achieve a small recovery between February and March after the safeguard duty steps down. 

M2 sized mono-Si cell prices hover at RMB 0.95/W, as tendered PV projects from 2019 are pending installation until Q1 2020. Price quotes for mono PERC cells made of G1 wafers have begun to fluctuate, because the cells are growing in supply following a shift in production lines from M2. Consequently, Tier-1 makers mostly stick with RMB 0.97–0.98/W, whereas Tier-2 makers offer slightly lower quotes at RMB 0.95–0.96/W.

In response to a production lull during the Chinese New Year holiday, multi-Si cell makers look set to stay closed for a much longer time to prevent their stocks from growing. Supply of larger mono-Si cells slightly exceeds demand; some producers are going to suspend operation for a while during the holiday whereas most are running their production lines at high utilization rates.

Module Price

Bid prices for Chinese modules to be delivered early this year are trending downward, with the multi-Si module prices indicating the price decreases seen in the up-and midstream sectors of the supply chain and having plunged to RMB 1.45–1.55/W at home and USD 0.2/W or even lower levels in overseas markets. The multi-Si supply chain may not regain stable demand until the Indian market rebounds. As Chinese module prices continue to go down, some producers have shipped modules to India at a pre-tax price of USD 0.18–0.19/W, thus causing the spot prices for modules to keep falling in India. 

Prices for mono PERC modules turned stable in China this week. However, as multi-Si modules continue to sustain price decline and the market may become sluggish after the Chinese New Year holiday, most producers are seeking to improve mono PERC modules’ power output to prop up their prices. The mainstream FOB price quote for mono PERC modules for the first half of this year is USD 0.22–0.23/W for overseas markets. China’s market price for such modules is going down; it came in at RMB 1.65–1.72/W this week.

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