Despite an upturn in demand, PV module prices have plunged further in September, as suppliers scrambled for orders during trade fairs in India and the U.S. Indian buyers have demanded further cut into quotes, already at low level, driving down average prices for PV cells and modules to record lows. Even in the U.S. market, used to feature higher prices thanks to anti-dumping and countervailing duties, spot prices have dropped conspicuously, due to acute competition and launch of capacities in third-party countries enjoying free tariff to the U.S. market.
The price drop has spread to the mid- and upstream sectors. In the Chinese polysilicon market, featuring limited transaction volume, prices are in a chaotic state, having even dropped reportedly to under RMB 100/kg in some cases. With the situation having started to affect other markets, global polysilicon prices are in for another round of drop.
Multi-si wafers have suffered steepest price decline recently. Although Chinese first- and second-tier suppliers have cut their capacity utilization rates to near 50% and planned to resume production only after China’s National Holidays, high inventory is sufficient to meet market demands, putting a damper on transaction prices. Mono-si wafer prices have stagnated, at RMB 5-1.1/pc in China and US$0.66-0.69 in Taiwan, as further price cuts cannot stimulate demands.
PV cells have negative gross margin, among the sectors with the deepest price drop. Despite some upturn in demand prior to and after Mid-Autumn Festival, suppliers have cut their prices to new lows, in order to reduce inventories, as settlement date for Q3 financial reports is drawing near. Price drop for PV cells in China has moderated, with prices now ranging RMB 1.5-1.55/W, but many orders in Taiwan are still priced below US$0.195/W.
As prices are now lower than cash costs, more business means more loss for suppliers, which will moderate price drop in the future and prompt PV module suppliers switching to higher-performance products. Some module suppliers have bundled 5-busbar PV cells with a larger size (156.75mm*156.75mm), while others demanded over 18.4% conversion rate for standard PV cells, prompting PV-cell suppliers to upgrade their products.
Domestic spot prices for PV modules in China have slipped to RMB 2.95-3.1/W, or around US$0.39/W. Prices in the U.S. have shed over 25% so far this year and average prices in Japan and E.U. have also plunged. Average module prices have plummeted in general recently.
(Written by Corrine Lin, Analyst at EnergyTrend. Translated by a contracted translator of TrendForce Corp.)