PVinsights: Strengthened By Production Disruption and CNY Rally, Pricey Upstream Knocks Out Downstream Margins

Polysilicon production disruption resulted from environmental inspection by Chinese authorities, and the sharp appreciation of Chinese Yuan recently has driven polysilicon prices higher. Though bearish signal prevailed across solar markets, polysilicon appeared immune to the downstream price downtrend as suppliers successfully boosted prices further by leveraging tight supply. Moreover, in the overseas markets, the prices only rose limitedly as the high price quotes received few responses. The rise of polysilicon prices continued to be capped by low utilization rate of overseas wafer makers, failing the suppliers' intention to lift the prices sharply.



Polysilicon production disruption resulted from environmental inspection by Chinese authorities, and the sharp appreciation of Chinese Yuan recently has driven polysilicon prices higher. Though bearish signal prevailed across solar markets, polysilicon appeared immune to the downstream price downtrend as suppliers successfully boosted prices further by leveraging tight supply. Moreover, in the overseas markets, the prices only rose limitedly as the high price quotes received few responses. The rise of polysilicon prices continued to be capped by low utilization rate of overseas wafer makers, failing the suppliers' intention to lift the prices sharply.

Multi-crystalline wafer prices rose moderately this week amid RMB appreciation against USD. As pressure from downstream cell and module sectors extended, major buyers could no longer accept further price hikes as they perceive the demand is about to weaken. Most major buyers have successfully defended the price hike, leaving the prices mostly stayed flattened. Yet, other 2nd and 3rd tier buyers, who had less bargaining power, were forced to take the price gain. Consequently, the prices in China improved mildly in RMB term but were translated into a hike in dollar term. On the other hand, mono-crystalline wafer prices increase noticeably as the market grappled with the shutdown of around 20 percent of output after power outage and environmental inspection ripped through the ingot production of the major mono-crystalline wafer supplier. Besides, due to surge of RMB and polysilicon costs, mono-crystalline wafer prices marked a reversal this week.

Multi-crystalline cell prices held steady on surging wafer costs, as demand stayed vulnerable and the major buyers' drive to procure less outsourced volume. The declining demand of solar cells has shown that buyers reined in procurements in response to global weakening demand conditions. Solar cell makers' confidence plunged and pessimism doubled as China's slow demand has stoked concerns that procurement volumes of both multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline cells were poised to slump further. In China, multi-crystalline cell prices have seen signs of weakening as suppliers selling at discounted prices despite increasing wafer costs. Nevertheless, with strengthened RMB, the prices in dollar term stayed immobile from last week. Meanwhile, prices in overseas stayed unchanged this week as price negotiation over orders for September hit a stalemate. As for mono-crystalline cell prices, intact downtrend continued this week amid lingering worries about the China demand backsliding. Thanks to surging Yuan, the scope of decline for mono-crystalline cells was balanced off when translating into dollar term.

Though supply and demand issues remained unbalanced, dollar weakness has been a key factor supporting global multi-crystalline module prices over the week. In China, faltering domestic demand led module prices to continue on its slide, yet the decline was offset in dollar term by the strong RMB. In India, Chinese module suppliers were under intensifying pressure but the price cut has been limited amid weakening dollar. In Japan, the module price decline was neutralized by weakening dollar, while the price in EU gained on strengthening EUR. Prices in US held steady as the impact of Section 201 investigation faded.

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