PVinsights: Solar Weakness Remained After Chinese Long Holiday

Benchmark polysilicon have plunged in recent days together with downstream components due to concerns over demand weakness as well as renewed fears that rapid output increase in China will flood the market with worsening glut. While decreased factory bookings reflected a serious drop from the storm, major polysilicon buyers had already been on firmer footing on reducing polysilicon procurement because of depressed global demand and worsened margins. Since Chinese polysilicon suppliers heavily depends their sales on domestic multi-crystalline wafer makers, the depressed downstream demand forced multi-crystalline wafer makers to slash procurement noticeably. In addition, Chinese polysilicon suppliers continued to ramp up production in 1H18, a private survey on Wednesday showed, and the demand and prices slowed in a further signs of cooling momentum in the world biggest solar market. Some Chinese 2nd and 3rd tier polysilicon suppliers suffered from tough market conditions were forced to offer further discount in order to selloff the increasing stockpiles. Following the pressure in the downstream market, the price for high purity polysilicon were also fell off from the highs, though the scope was comparably steadier than conventional polysilicon for multi-crystalline wafer, due to solid consumption by top mono-crystalline wafer makers¡¦ expansion. On the other hand, polysilicon suppliers in overseas markets triggered further price reduction following the accelerated slump of polysilicon in China.


Benchmark polysilicon have plunged in recent days together with downstream components due to concerns over demand weakness as well as renewed fears that rapid output increase in China will flood the market with worsening glut. While decreased factory bookings reflected a serious drop from the storm, major polysilicon buyers had already been on firmer footing on reducing polysilicon procurement because of depressed global demand and worsened margins. Since Chinese polysilicon suppliers heavily depends their sales on domestic multi-crystalline wafer makers, the depressed downstream demand forced multi-crystalline wafer makers to slash procurement noticeably. In addition, Chinese polysilicon suppliers continued to ramp up production in 1H18, a private survey on Wednesday showed, and the demand and prices slowed in a further signs of cooling momentum in the world biggest solar market. Some Chinese 2nd and 3rd tier polysilicon suppliers suffered from tough market conditions were forced to offer further discount in order to selloff the increasing stockpiles. Following the pressure in the downstream market, the price for high purity polysilicon were also fell off from the highs, though the scope was comparably steadier than conventional polysilicon for multi-crystalline wafer, due to solid consumption by top mono-crystalline wafer makers¡¦ expansion. On the other hand, polysilicon suppliers in overseas markets triggered further price reduction following the accelerated slump of polysilicon in China.

Due to lack of order visibility, both multi- and mono-crystalline wafer prices extended the price drop over the week. Decline in multi-crystalline wafer accelerated due to competition against mono-counterpart and a corresponding fall in multi-crystalline cell prices. The prospect of demand weakness forced the wafer buyers to reduce the pace of procurement. Furthermore, as top multi-crystalline wafer makers has adjusted the price lower for March, other rivals offered even more competitive prices in order to attract sales. On the other hand, major mono-crystalline wafer suppliers has adjusted mono-crystalline wafer prices lower for March. The several attempts of lowering prices made by the top mono-crystalline wafer makers implied their worries over cooling demand and implicit pressure of inventory level. Subdued demand over the month means that the major wafer suppliers' massive price reduction is unlikely to be end in a hurry, despite the efforts by some wafer players to lower productions.

Both multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline cell were traded slightly lower this week. Although the recovery sign remained unseen, solar cell makers still attempted to raise the price quotes with their confidence in upcoming rebound in demand. However, as major solar cell buyers continued slashing outsourced solar cell procurement amid stricter control on inventory levels and pessimistic demand prospects, the demand for solar cells remained depressed in the short term. Under the circumstance of dimmed demand and decrease in wafer costs, solar cell buyers perceived the attempts to raise solar cell prices were unacceptable, strengthening wait-and-see attitudes and some even threatened to cut the rest of the procurement volumes if cell makers insist to hike prices. As for the supply side, some Chinese and Taiwanese solar cell makers' inventory level has surged up to 2-3 weeks, such that would become a warning sign for potential threat of severe dumping thereafter. Some cell makers focused on inventory clearance had took the lead to lower prices in order to secure orders first, driving the overall index to settle lower this week. Similarly, mono-crystalline cell price dipped only slightly as some buyers and seller were still in a stalemate. However, in accordance with the slump of multi-crystalline counterpart and upstream mono-crystalline wafer costs, the prices of mono-crystalline cells still traded lower this week.

Overall module prices dropped consecutively as the market focus shifted back to fundamental amid diminishing effects on the exchange rates. Solar panel prices were on track of a downtrend given that global demand strength in 1Q18 was worse than their previous estimation. Supply chain survey showed the major module makers grew more pessimistic in the need to keep stricter control on inventories, with most believing demand in March remained fragile amid a weak global demand landscape. Worsening oversupply situation in China and emerging countries without tariff imposed stirred the module price rout in these regions. In India, as entering into the typical hot season before the fiscal year end closure, solid demand supported the prices to remain relative stable. Module prices in EU and Japan traded slightly lower as some Chinese players leveraged price competition. In the US, major Chinese solar panel makers lowered the prices to digest the high inventory level. Overall, following the correction of upstream materials and demand slowdown, module makers continued to lower prices in the face of intensifying competition amid global glut.

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