PVinsights: SPI 2016 Shows a Severe Price Drop Amid Intensifying Competition

Both multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline module prices extend the slump this week. In multiple exhibitions held in the past two weeks, the solar panels prices in India, Japan and the US have witnessed enlarged drops amid intense competition. The 1st tier Chinese module makers, with increasing production capacities in SEA, leverage strategic pricing most aggressively in the US, offering price quotes of multi-crystalline modules at around $0.40/watt. In addition, top tier Chinese module makers also intend to strengthen its presence in the EU and Japan market by providing more competitive priced modules. In India and the emerging market, 2nd tier Chinese module makers have dominated price turbulence as they can dump excess inventories without punitive tariff enforced. Such fierce price competition indicates that Chinese module makers are still on the way of inventory clearance.


Both multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline module prices extend the slump this week. In multiple exhibitions held in the past two weeks, the solar panels prices in India, Japan and the US have witnessed enlarged drops amid intense competition. The 1st tier Chinese module makers, with increasing production capacities in SEA, leverage strategic pricing most aggressively in the US, offering price quotes of multi-crystalline modules at around $0.40/watt. In addition, top tier Chinese module makers also intend to strengthen its presence in the EU and Japan market by providing more competitive priced modules. In India and the emerging market, 2nd tier Chinese module makers have dominated price turbulence as they can dump excess inventories without punitive tariff enforced. Such fierce price competition indicates that Chinese module makers are still on the way of inventory clearance. Furthermore, with the drop of upper stream solar cell prices, solar panel makers can regain more flexibility to lower prices, driving the both multi- and mono-crystalline module prices to drop continuously this week.

Polysilicon, the best performing solar component of the year, is strap in for a bumpy ride, as downstream demand wanes. The correction of polysilicon price this week remains substantial this week, mainly driven down by the price adjustment in the domestic polysilicon market in China. Chinese 1st tier polysilicon makers continue lower price quotes drastically with quotes below RMB100/Kg in efforts to stimulate demand as well as to dump swelled inventories. Since Chinese polysilicon makers did not comply with the price drop accordingly during the market downturn in July and August, the inventory level has piled up more than expected. Moreover, weak downstream demand continues to weigh on market sentiments, leading the procurement of polysilicon become more conservative. Hence, with the compounding pressure and the approaching closure of quarterly financials, Chinese polysilicon makers are conducting more aggressive pricing to relieve their pressures since September. On the other hand, non-Chinese polysilicon makers also lower prices following the downtrend in China, but the scope is relatively limited than China since their inventory pressures are considerably lower than Chinese polysilicon makers. Hence, the drop of polysilicon prices continues to accelerate this week as mainly attributed to the noticeable correction of Chinese polysilicon prices.

Multi-crystalline wafer price is not out of the wood yet with expanded correction of polysilicon prices. As raw material costs have lowered, the suffering 2nd tier multi-crystalline wafer makers find more flexibility and adopt more competitive prices to selloff their inventories. The record-breaking low prices offered by 2nd tier makers persist to weigh on 1st tier multi-crystalline makers, and driving the overall multi-crystalline wafer price to fall extensively this week. On the other hand, unlike multi-crystalline wafer, the correction of mono-crystalline wafer is rather limited, as top tier mono-crystalline wafer makers are reluctant to follow the drop of multi-ones. Alternatively, mono-crystalline wafer makers intend to accumulate more inventories to against the price downturn in the near term amid speculation of demand pickup in 4Q16.

Following the drop of multi-crystalline wafer, multi-crystalline cell prices still see no alleviation yet. Although the demand seems not to deteriorate further, that demand is not good enough to sustain multi-crystalline cell price especially when the market is at buyers side and multi-crystalline wafer prices also drop continuously. With compounded pressures of record-low downstream module prices and accelerating drop of multi-crystalline wafers, multi-crystalline cell prices are still under great pressure this week. Meanwhile, the scope of mono-crystalline cell price does not fall as much as multi-crystalline cells due to limited drop of mono-crystalline wafer. Moreover, as prompted by the Top Runner program, higher efficiency mono PERC cells are more in demand. With limited drop of mono-crystalline wafer price and higher demand in mono-PERC, mono-crystalline cell prices drop limitedly than multi-ones this week.

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