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Photovoltaic Industry Sees Conflicting Market Trends

published: 2014-09-05 10:48

Taiwan photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers have received rush orders since the end of August, leading to higher utilization rates and boosting optimism among Taiwan PV producers about demand in September. Yet Chinese demand remains weak as Chinese PV manufacturers have yet to reap the benefits of supportive Chinese government policies, such as subsidies for manufacturers. The market is exhibiting trends that are both bearish and bullish, and that is causing prices to diverge,” said Arthur Hsu, a research manager in EnergyTrend, a subsidiary of the Taiwan-based market intelligence firm TrendForce. “We expect in the short run that changes in price will vary by market sub-sector and product.”

Since China decided to impose countervailing and anti-dumping duties on polysilicon imports in order to close the loophole, analysts generally believe producers outside China will benefit. Also, high polysilicon prices may fall. US polysilicon prices have already dropped in Taiwan and similar products have fallen below US$20/kg to about US$19.5/kg. Although these are not top quality products, they perform nearly as well. Since top quality polysilicon products remain priced at US$22.5/kg, comparable products for US$19.5/kg seem relatively attractive.

Both wafer and cell prices slightly increased. Chinese multi-si wafer prices increased 3%-5%, with final prices reaching 6.2-6.4 CNY, according to EnergyTrend’s research. Because Chinese market prices have been trending upward, Chinese wafer producers have lowered their export volume, which caused Taiwan wafer producers to raise wafer price quotes. Although Taiwan cell manufacturers’ utilization rates continued to increase, cell prices only increased slightly due to certain trading factors. The current cell quotation is between US$0.33-0.34/watt. It is less likely mainstream multi-si cell prices will surpass US$0.34/watt.

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Since overall Chinese market prices have stabilized and demand is picking up in Taiwan, high-efficiency multi-si wafer prices increased 0.22% to US$0.92/piece, while normal-grade remained flat. Cell demand remained weak in China, leading to steady cell prices in China. Taiwan cell makers’ price quotes increased due to the uptick in cell utilization rates. Taiwan cell prices reached US$0.332/watt, up 1.57%. The outlook for module demand is uncertain in China because the market has yet to respond positively to supportive Chinese government policies. Module prices remained steady as shipments to Europe, USA, and Japan are back to normal. Yet, prices are likely to fluctuate in the short run.

(photo credit: freshelectrons via photopin cc )

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