PVinsights: Upstream Momentum gradually tempers

As the mid-stream wafer makers continue to recover the production, the surge in demand has successfully pushed up the price of polysilicon continuously this week. However, the scope of polysilicon price uptrend has become slower, as witnessed more conservative moves by Chinese polysilicon makers. Major Chinese polysilicon makers have expressed their concerns over the rising polysilicon prices as they found the demand recovery in the end market seems not that strong. Hence, after the rapid uptick in October, they intend to slow the pace on increasing the prices in order to have a more sustainable growth.

As the mid-stream wafer makers continue to recover the production, the surge in demand has successfully pushed up the price of polysilicon continuously this week. However, the scope of polysilicon price uptrend has become slower, as witnessed more conservative moves by Chinese polysilicon makers. Major Chinese polysilicon makers have expressed their concerns over the rising polysilicon prices as they found the demand recovery in the end market seems not that strong. Hence, after the rapid uptick in October, they intend to slow the pace on increasing the prices in order to have a more sustainable growth. On the other hand, with the price improvement in China and the restored global demand, non-Chinese polysilicon makers continue to raise their prices this week as to shrink the gap with prices in China. As the result, overall polysilicon prices keep raising this week amid the production recovery of wafer makers, yet the paces have seen slower as Chinese polysilicon makers remain cautious about demand outlook.


Both multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline wafer prices continue to rise this week as major suppliers have not quickly added extra supplies to the market. Driven by the rising demand and limited supply, solar wafers are the strongest solar components over the value chain since October. However, the positive price momentum has seen to be tempered a bit as suppliers are increasingly ramping up the production back to full. Similar situation also applies to mono-crystalline wafer supply, but the shortage situation of mono-crystalline wafer is actually severer than multi-ones. As the result, the lingering impacts from the production curtailment for both mono- and multi-crystalline wafers in early October, along with the rising demand in solar cell sector, lead to a short term shortage in supply, and continue to push up the prices for both mono and multi-crystalline wafers this week.

With the shortage of wafers, solar cell makers still unable to recover full production, leading both multi-crystalline cells and mono-crystalline cells continue to surge this week amid tight supply. Solar cell makers have seized the timing to raise the price quotes aggressively, in order to make up for the losses in the previous quarter. Because the tight supply situation has persisted, some solar panel manufacturers are forced to accept such solar cell price hike. Nevertheless, due to rapid ascension of solar cell prices, the acceptance of solar cell buyers begins to erode as the prices of downstream modules still remain stagnate. However, solar cell suppliers are now cautious on the sustainability of the price uptrend so as hesitate to fully retrieve the production. On the other hand, mono-crystalline cell prices continue to surge, in particular for mono-PERC cell prices, with the aid of Topper Runner projects in China. As some Chinese players are still sufferings from the quality issue on high-efficiency mono-PERC cells, major Chinse module makers have increased the procurement of the outsourcing mono-PERC cells. However, the supply volume seems to be still too limited to fulfill the demand at this time, and this continue to reflect a strong pull-up on prices of mono-PERC cell. As the result, pacing the wafer uptrend, solar cell prices surge noticeably in this week as temporarily supply fail to meet the demand, while stagnate module prices limits the scope of the upstream prices, amid signs of fragile recovery in China.

Solar panel prices remain flat this week despite the price hike of upstream components. Even that global demand has gradually restored, the improvement in demand is not strong enough to allow solar panel price to increase. Although the demand in China improves, lots of projects have been bid in 3Q16, most of the projects are bidding at relatively low price range around $0.38-0.41/watt. Hence, the rising upstream costs are now intensifying the pressure on solar panel players to accept the profit erosion for the further upstream price hike or to give up the orders. Besides, solar demand in the US, Japan, and EURO remain stable, so there is no driver to improve the price quotes. Therefore, as a result of a mild demand recovery, major module makers are not able to raise the prices immediately to offset their rising costs, leading the solar panel prices to stabilize this week.

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