The Chinese market held more conservative attitude after the Lunar New Year. Despite top-tier manufacturers’ full-production status, second-tier Chinese cell manufacturers could start to feel some sales pressure. The polysilicon market saw weaker prices at RMB 2.35/W after the Lunar New Year.
Taiwanese manufacturers are still running at full capacity to satisfy Chinese mono-Si wafer makers’ OEM orders. Although mono-Si cell was originally priced at US$ 0.34-0.343/W, some orders have been cancelled as the price increase in the previous months have led to lower profit margins for vertically-integrated manufacturers. Since Taiwanese makers placed most of their orders on Chinese vertically-integrated manufacturers, if orders do get cancelled, the capacity vacated will not allow a negotiation on the prices. Cells from outside of China and Taiwan will still be at a price level of above US$ 0.39/W owing to zero-tariff advantages.
Due to the end of peak-selling season, cell manufacturers can begin to see lower prices and plan to negotiate the prices with polysilicon manufacturers. Back in February, high-efficiency multi-Si wafer was generally traded at the price of US$ 0.90/pc in Taiwan, while Chinese multi-Si wafer prices remained high. However, lower cell prices in March may result in weaker multi-Si wafer prices as well.
Looking ahead to the future, manufacturers will still witness 100% utilization rates following the final installation boom in China from March to April. But as the installation boom from 4Q15 will come to an end at May-end and no demand will be seen in the US, Japan, India, and the UK yet, 3Q16 will become the season with the lowest demand this year. Moreover, because Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers will roll out new cell and module capacities in the end of 2Q, we can foresee serious oversupply issues in 3Q16. By then, prices will drop rapidly, which will be another crisis for manufacturers with unstable export markets.