PVinsights: China Demand Recovery Decelerates Solar Slump

Global solar panel prices continue to drop this week, extending the longest losses since 2017, but the rate of decline has slowed significantly from previous weeks. The demand in China has restored momentum in April. However, the demand recovery would still not be strong enough to reverse the downtrend of prices, but should help to limit the scope of decline. Meanwhile, although the demand in China has improved, the demand in rest of the major solar markets still appears to be lackluster. In EU and the US, solar panel prices were slashed sharply since 4Q16 and recently major module makers have ceased aggressive pricing. In Japan and India, fierce competition in these regions in efforts to win PV projects in 2H17 continue to drive solar panel prices lower.

Global solar panel prices continue to drop this week, extending the longest losses since 2017, but the rate of decline has slowed significantly from previous weeks. The demand in China has restored momentum in April. However, the demand recovery would still not be strong enough to reverse the downtrend of prices, but should help to limit the scope of decline. Meanwhile, although the demand in China has improved, the demand in rest of the major solar markets still appears to be lackluster. In EU and the US, solar panel prices were slashed sharply since 4Q16 and recently major module makers have ceased aggressive pricing. In Japan and India, fierce competition in these regions in efforts to win PV projects in 2H17 continue to drive solar panel prices lower. As the result, although price pressure in China seems to alleviate a bit amid improved demand, the sluggish demand in rest of the solar markets lead overall solar panel prices to drop continuously this week.


The drop of multi-crystalline cell prices seems to meet some resistance this week after a long streak of weekly losses. Since solar cell makers had adopted lower production utilization rates to conduct stricter control on inventory levels, the volatility in the market has eased and multi-crystalline cell prices has dropped at slower rate with the focus shifting back to fundamentals. The order visibility for April has improved as the installation in China is gaining momentum. Yet, the foreseeable orders still could not fulfill the production capacities for most solar cell makers. Therefore, some solar cell makers have quickly responded with slashed prices aiming to secure the orders successfully. Moreover, with the orders inquiries from India increasing, low multi-crystalline cell prices are witnessed as India has been a price-driven market. On the other hand, the price of mono-crystalline is relatively resistant to the downward pressure due to the constraint of mono-crystalline wafer in the market. However, the buyers tend to become more conservative on direct procurement of mono-crystalline cell due to cost consideration, instead, more buyers increase the proportion of tolling services and slashing the tolling fee, resulting continuous slide of mono-crystalline cell prices.

Multi-crystalline wafer prices head for further deterioration this week. Although some multi-crystalline wafer suppliers claim that they had lowered their production utilization rates in March, the actual production output is estimated to be higher than anticipated that lead multi-crystalline wafer suppliers continue to suffer from high inventory pressures. Despite the demand recovery in April, the supply of multi-crystalline wafer is still topping the demand, resulting consistent oversupply situation. On the other hand, mono-crystalline wafer price remain solid this week due to persistent restrained supply. However, its strength may prove unsustainable in near future with falling polysilicon prices and the enlarged price gap with multi-crystalline wafer.

The slump of polysilicon prices continue to accelerate this week. Regardless of downstream demand recovery, the polysilicon suppliers in China are still struggling with ample stockpiles. Although the order inquires has increased, the actual procurement remain obscured as polysilicon buyers intend to strengthen wait-and-see attitudes. The dimmed order visibility forces suppliers in China to cut price further in attempt to support polysilicon buying. On the other hand, polysilicon in overseas market fall rather limitedly than in China since the price baseline is relatively low. In addition, since overseas and Chinese polysilicon suppliers also actively expand their capacities, threat of supply ease also stoked oversupply worries. As the result, overall polysilicon prices extend the losses this week amid worsening glut.

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