Although the Lunar New Year holiday has ended, employees in China will have to wait until the Lantern Festival to return to work. In addition, power plant installation has been suspended in China during the Lunar New Year holiday, leading to slightly higher module inventory level. Therefore, Chinese demand has slightly declined after the Lunar New Year. The European and US markets also witnessed weak demand in 1Q17. The overall market remains conservative toward demand.
According to EnergyTrend’s observation, both upstream and downstream sectors are still testing the prices in early-February. But judging from a potential installation of over 25GW in China this year, there should be a major stock offload in 1Q17, which may keep prices up.
Currently, multi-Si wafer price has slightly increased compared to before the Lunar New Year but still suffers from chaotic pricing. The average trading price of multi-Si wafers reached RMB 5.15-5.3/pc in China and US$ 0.66-0.69/pc in Taiwan. That of mono-Si wafers reached US$ 0.82-0.85/pc in Taiwan and RMB 6.2-6.3/pc in China.
Due to the weak cell trading volume after the Lunar New Year, the mono and multi-Si cell market saw stagnation in trading prices. Even though the price quote of 18.4% multi-Si cells has reached US$ 0.223-0.228/W, the average trading price remained at US$ 0.22/W. Conventional mono-Si cell saw slightly higher price rise before the Lunar New Year, and thus the current price can be maintained at US$ 0.25-0.28/W. The weak trading volume has caused cell makers to prepare less stock and try to sell most of their on hand stock. However, EnergyTrend projected that cell prices may increase again as demand rises in late-February.
Module prices may be difficult to pick up recently. Although module makers are hoping to increase prices following the rise of cell prices, module prices have not been seen up in almost all of the markets. Therefore, module makers’ profits are shrinking. If prices can’t pick up during the installation boom in March, it may bring pressures to mid-to-upstream sectors, leading to limited price increase for multi-Si cells. The trend won’t be clear until installation boom takes place from late-February to March.