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Hoku announces bankruptcy; the future for small polysilicon factories seems gloomy

published: 2013-07-15 10:17

The US PV raw material supplier, Hoku, announced its bankruptcy on July 4th. The bankruptcy also affected its subsidiary company, Hoku Materials, which produced polysilicon. According to the most recent global PV industry database collected by global market intelligence organization TrendForce’s research division EnergyTrend, it showed the limited growth for the market demand and the continuously decreasing polysilicon price. The overall condition for polysilicon industry in the future can still be bumpy and the future for small polysilicon factories remains gloomy.

EnergyTrend indicated that the global polysilicon capacity was around 390 thousand tons by 2Q13, with the capacity from top five manufacturers accounting for 57.6% and that from top ten manufacturers accounting for 71.6%. Besides, based on EnergyTrend’s data, the amount of shipment in the first half year of 2013 turned out to be about 80 thousand tons with the market share from top five manufacturers representing more than 70% and that from top ten manufacturers representing more than 80%. It clearly showed that global polysilicon manufacturers ranked after tenth place will face tough challenges in terms of either capacity or output.

Concerning polysilicon cost and price, because most of the new polysilicon manufacturers started to build factories since 2007, the following cost should be applied to the new factories built after 2007 based on EnergyTrend’s data. Depending on the scale of production in each factory, the depreciation cost was between $6/kg-$12/kg. The energy cost was $8/kg-$14/kg and the total cost was between $24/kg-$28/kg. There’s a 10%-20% cost spread compared to major manufacturers. On the other hand, polysilicon price significantly declined since 2010. The recent spot price even wandered around $16/kg-$18/kg, which also impacted the price that tied down to the contract. According to the data, the recent contract price has dropped to $20/kg. Regarding cost and price, the best major manufacturers can do was to break even or stay loss, which put more burdens on small polysilicon manufacturers with less financial ability. EnergyTrend believed that Hoku’s bankruptcy is just the beginning. If polysilicon price doesn’t increase significantly in the short run, more manufacturers will face the bankrupt pressure.

Judging from the spot market overall performance, because the demand’s turning slow and that China may not execute anti-dumping and countervailing policy on polysilicon according to first-tier manufacturers, this week’s polysilicon spot market price continued to decline. For Multi-Si wafer, the gap between the price for high-efficiency products and normal grade products remained. With recent demand and price being stagnated, this week’s price was unchanged. For cell, due to the decreasing demand, the quoted price for normal grade products continued to decline. In addition, the price for high-efficiency products have started to loosen and caused the average price to go down. For module, the due date for modules shipping to Europe has passed and future demand will have to depend on the policy result by August. Moreover, Japanese market is likely to gain more certifications, which will affect the amount of shipment in the future.

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