PVinsights: Solar Dipped on Lackluster Demand

Polysilicon bulls extended for another week, bolstered by solid demand from multi-crystalline wafer suppliers, the demand for the ongoing capacity expansion of mono-crystalline wafer makers, and the outage of a Chinese polysilicon supplier in Xinjiang, China. Although the downstream demand was weakening, multi-crystalline wafer makers with the healthy orders remained a solid polysilicon procurement volumes and major mono-crystalline wafer suppliers under the ongoing capacity expansion tried to raise ingot inventory for the potential demand recovery in 1Q18. Besides, some integrated module makers preferred buying polysilicon at current prices rather than buying wafers directly due to the better cost structure. Moreover, one Chinese major supplier had a power blackout last week which reduced the possibility to follow the downstream price downtrend.

Polysilicon bulls extended for another week, bolstered by solid demand from multi-crystalline wafer suppliers, the demand for the ongoing capacity expansion of mono-crystalline wafer makers, and the outage of a Chinese polysilicon supplier in Xinjiang, China. Although the downstream demand was weakening, multi-crystalline wafer makers with the healthy orders remained a solid polysilicon procurement volumes and major mono-crystalline wafer suppliers under the ongoing capacity expansion tried to raise ingot inventory for the potential demand recovery in 1Q18. Besides, some integrated module makers preferred buying polysilicon at current prices rather than buying wafers directly due to the better cost structure. Moreover, one Chinese major supplier had a power blackout last week which reduced the possibility to follow the downstream price downtrend. Furthermore, despite words of caution about a polysilicon bubble from some wafer makers and downstream participants, Chinese polysilicon suppliers argued a wider polysilicon price rally could last well into early next year as China's distributed generation development widens.


Multi-crystalline wafer prices slipped this week as some suppliers modified their prices along with the weakening downstream demand and mono-crystalline wafer price correction, although the market reached the supply-demand balance at the moment. The prices also showed signs of bigger correction ahead of financial year-end as buyers reduced their demand in order to have the healthy inventory level. The low order visibility for late December also implied the potential price correction. With mono-crystalline downstream demand still facing headwinds, buyers were quick to take cost advantage on multi-crystalline wafers instead of expensive mono-crystalline ones, pushing mono-crystalline wafer prices down this week. While major suppliers were anticipating the demand recovery in the end of 1Q18 with holding their ingot inventory to keep the prices, 2nd and 3rd tier players have already cut their prices due to the falling downstream demand and won the preference among the buyers.

Multi-crystalline cell prices stayed put this week, supported by the solid demand. More and more cell makers were adopting diamond-wired technology in China as well as overseas. On the contrary, the decline extended amid escalating speculation that downstream demand stood at the precipice of a recession, with the pessimism fueled as downstream module sector staged a 0.74% decrease from last week. The mono-crystalline cell prices dropped on Wednesday with a depressed demand and strengthening supply expected to raise cell makers' earlier concerns about severe competitions. China mono-PERC cell prices fell lower this week as major buyeers prepared for an expected order cut later this month, while mono-PERC cell prices fell around the world on continued global demand weakness before the holiday season.

Global spot price index on Wednesday showed a decrease in module prices, decreasing hopes that global demand may be rising from sluggish levels. Prices in China fell, dragged by the weakening demand as the installations were supported by smaller scale projects without the utility scale projects. The activities in Japan, Europe and the U.S. calmed before the holiday season, while buyers in India were expecting more pronounced price reduction for future projects despite that 1Q18 would usually be the traditional high season. Solar module makers were also watching for the project developers' assessment of the price-performance ratio of mono-crystalline products as that might change the market's views on the future path of mono-crystalline product demand recovery. Overall, mono-crystalline products are still facing more severe price correction than multi-crystalline ones. As a result of global demand softness, all module price performed a downtrend this week.

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