PVinsights: Solar plunge exposes a fundamental weakness

Global solar panel prices were on track of a downtrend given that global demand strength in 4Q17 are below previous estimation. With Chinese government's 2017 solar target secure, the demand in China showed signs of slowing since 2H17 after Beijing dialed back stimulus efforts of FIT subsidy and closed installation for this year's top runner projects around end of September. Mono-PERC module prices suffered from depressed demand amid higher selling prices, particularly in EU, Japan, and China, forcing module buyers shift procurement toward multi-crystalline products. While the outcome on Section 201 are expected to soon be determined by President Trump, module prices in the US held steady as buyers awaiting for clear market signals. In India, panel prices dropped as domestic manufacturers escalated price competition as domestic suppliers seek to compete with Chinese rivals.


Global solar panel prices were on track of a downtrend given that global demand strength in 4Q17 are below previous estimation. With Chinese government's 2017 solar target secure, the demand in China showed signs of slowing since 2H17 after Beijing dialed back stimulus efforts of FIT subsidy and closed installation for this year's top runner projects around end of September. Mono-PERC module prices suffered from depressed demand amid higher selling prices, particularly in EU, Japan, and China, forcing module buyers shift procurement toward multi-crystalline products. While the outcome on Section 201 are expected to soon be determined by President Trump, module prices in the US held steady as buyers awaiting for clear market signals. In India, panel prices dropped as domestic manufacturers escalated price competition as domestic suppliers seek to compete with Chinese rivals.

Lingering worries about the demand backsliding have sent multi-crystalline cell prices to consecutive decline, as curbed by buyers' ebbing appetite for outsourcing procurement. The faster transition to diamond wired cells also fueled the decline of overall multi-crystalline cell prices, yet the drop of multi-crystalline cell prices were less substantial than mono-ones. Mono-crystalline cell prices, notably mono PERC cells, plunged this week amid precipitous demand cut and increasing inventory pressure. With dimmed demand prospects and depressed market sentiment in the recent weeks, solar cell makers were increasingly dumping products to prevent inventory write-off from the wave of price slump for the rest of the year.

Mono-crystalline wafer prices weighed down by declines in cells and modules on concerns about demand and a plunge in confidence from downstream demand weakness. The Top mono wafer maker¡¦s decision to cut prices in late October still have a limited impact on demand, damped by the higher adoption on low-priced DW wafers and expensive mono Perc module prices. Multi-crystalline wafer prices also dropped by sliding slurry-sawed wafer prices and accelerated DW wafer transition. As hampered by decreasing order visibility in cell sector, buyers reinforce their attitude on cutting prices and placing orders more conservatively. While the transition of demand in diamond-wired multi-crystalline wafers has being adopted in a faster pace, the market share of traditional slurry-wired multi-crystalline wafers has seen increasingly overtook by diamond-wired ones. The sustainable demand for DW wafers kept the prices steady this week, yet drove the overall multi-crystalline wafer price down amid low-cost nature.

Polysilicon prices stayed not much changed from last week as demand and supply remained quite balanced currently. Though bearish signal prevailed across downstream components, polysilicon has appeared immune to the downstream price downtrend as polysilicon suppliers were still encouraged by solid demand. The polysilicon suppliers still saw solid demand from mono-crystalline wafer makers due to capacity expansion. While in overseas market, polysilicon prices remained little changed from last week amid thinning trading. Since overseas polysilicon suppliers were reluctant to cut prices in accordance with buyers¡¦ request, most buyers tended to executing long-term supply contracts rather than purchasing extra quantity in the spot market.

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