Chinese New Year is around the corner. The end market of solar energy has become weak. Because the module dealers’ demand for cells decreased, cell dealers had to sell with a lower price. However, the China-based market is quite sluggish before Chinese New Year. It is hard to find buyers even after the prices are reduced. Therefore, the prices of the entire supply chain has dropped.
The pressure to reduce price has spread from the module to polysilicon markets, prompting some small manufacturers in China to lower their price. Although the entire polysilicon price didn’t decline dramatically, it is expected to go down next week. The lowest price of the material for multi-si wafer can be lower than RMB 140/kg. The material price for mono-si wafer was more stable and can remain at RMB 150/kg.
Because there were a lot of cells being sold in a lower price, si-wafer price started to slump. In terms of mono-si wafer, due to its steady demand, the decrease was smaller. Only the leading manufacturer LONGI slightly lowered the price this week. Before Chinese New Year, prices from major mono-si wafer manufacturers are expected to be above RMB 5/pc.
Because there were time differences for the cell price reduction effect on si-wafer, multi-si wafer price has decreased since this week and will reach RMB 3.8~4/pc next week to react the current diamond wire saw multi-si PV cell price. Owing to the intense decrease of multi-si wafer price, the spread between mono-si wafer and diamond wire saw multi-si wafer enlarged to RMB 0.8/pc.
The module demand for cells has decreased, prompting cell dealers to sell with a lower price. Thus, PV cell price this week slumped. In the future, plan of reducing production will have to be conducted to decrease the inventory level.
Mono-si PV cell price has dropped for three months in 4Q17. It almost reached the same price as multi-si PV cell. Thus, its price became competitive after January. Meanwhile, most mono-si PV cell manufacturers have partly reduced the production or adjusted the production line in advance, so they only experienced minor impact. In comparison, diamond wire saw multi-si PV cell price largely decreased to RMB 1.4~1.5/W. It is expected to affect upstream multi-si wafer next week.
Because multi-si PV cell price massively dropped, the spread between mono-si PV cell and multi-si PV cell increased again. In the future, it would be worth paying attention to the mono-si PV cell price strategy from the major manufacturers. Yet, because Chinese New Year is near, some small manufacturers have started taking days off; after this sell-off for cells, the entire cell production will be reduced, and the capacity will be retrieved in March.
This week, prices of mono-si module and multi-si module have decreased steadily. Because Chinese New Year is near and the snowy weather in China is getting worse, the constructions have been stopped. The situation is expected to be improved in March.
The result of the US Section 201 trade case has been announced on January 22. From February 7, the US will impose 30% tariff on solar cell and module imports and there is a tax free quota of 2,500 MW each year. Meanwhile, some developing countries such as India, Turkey and Brazil are excluded from Section 201 trade case. This will give them the incentive to turn their attention to the US market. In the future, the module’s regional supply and demand balance may change.