As of mid-July, downstream mono-si demands had remained sluggish for three weeks consecutively. Mono-si PV cell suppliers began to cut prices at larger scale this week, driving downward mono-si wafer prices, a development conducive to higher mono-si market share. Meanwhile, with price-hike momentum for multi-si wafers amid overstrained supply remaining high, market attention is on the pricing strategy of suppliers. Should they decide to raise prices, PV cell quotes will follow, narrowing the price gap with mono-si products. Prices in other sectors will mostly remain flat or rise slightly.
With inventories remaining tight as last week, lots of capacities are scheduled for annual maintenance in Q3, as the market has began to slacken in the wake of June 30 installation rush. Should strained inventories continue, concentration of orders may step up, driving up polysilicon prices. With polysilicon prices stabilizing at RMB 118-123/kg this week, suppliers have become increasingly bullish, as chance for acceptance of price hike by the downstream sector has become higher.
Major mono-si wafer supplier Zhonghuan Solar cut prices by 2.5% this week, driving down 190mm mono-si wafer price to RMB 5.9/pc, which has prompted downstream PV-cell suppliers to follow suit. Other smaller suppliers are expected to lower prices later on.
Utilization rates of capacity of leading multi-si wafer suppliers are still overstrained by demands, notably overseas demands, mostly for high-performance products, in the United States and Europe, which remained high. Prices of ultra high-performance multi-si wafers stayed at RMB 5-5.05/pc and further hike for overseas prices, which will drive up prices of Taiwan-made PV cells, cannot be ruled out.
Mono-si PV cell prices continued to drop, at larger scale, this week, with prices of China-made PV cells having decreased to RMB 1.88-1.9/W, although prices of Taiwan-made PV cells remained stable, thanks to overseas demands which stayed high. Cross-Strait quotes for multi-si PV cells have been stable this week, but price performance of the two sides may diverge in August, as difference in their end-market demands becomes evident.
Amid a general stable status this week, module prices between first- and second-tier suppliers diverged further, as demands this month concentrated on large-scale projects. Multi-si module prices of first-tier Chinese suppliers stayed at RMB 2.85-2.95/W, compared with RMB 2.65-2.75/W for second-tier suppliers. Given extension of orders for first-tier suppliers to early August, price stabilization for overall supply chain will be postponed by one to two weeks.
(Analysis provided by Jason Tsai, analyst at EnergyTrend)