TrendForce has released the latest PV spot price, revealing the supply and demand dynamics in the market. Polysilicon and Wafer prices have shown a divergence over the week, whereas Module and Cell prices have remained steady.
Polysilicon prices have diverged throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for mono recharge polysilicon is RMB 57/KG, while mono dense polysilicon is priced at RMB 55/KG and N-type polysilicon is currently priced at RMB 64/KG.
The top-tier polysilicon companies are in a positive transaction phase, having essentially wrapped up January 2024 orders. Some businesses are still in the negotiation phase.
Regarding order prices, N-type polysilicon has maintained stability, primarily fueled by increased N-type wafer output and heightened demand resulting from a shift in part of the P-type wafer production capacity to N-type wafers.
Conversely, P-type polysilicon prices have experienced fluctuations and a continued decline. On one hand, the newly added production capacity has yielded low-quality polysilicon, exacerbating the oversupply issue for P-type polysilicon.
On the other hand, diminishing downstream output of P-type wafers has impacted the demand for P-type polysilicon, contributing to its declining price. Looking at the supply side, the influx of new production capacity in January is steadily increasing polysilicon output, with a medium single-digit month-on-month growth rate.
On the demand side, crystal pulling manufacturers maintain a high activation rate, but the output of N-type crystal pulling is rapidly rising.
In summary, this month shows positive supply and demand dynamics for N-type polysilicon, providing robust support for its price. However, the outlook for P-type polysilicon is bleak due to the production of low-quality output from the newly added capacity, creating an imbalance in the demand and supply relationship.
The expectation is that the price gap between N-type and P-type polysilicon will widen. This week, the prices of rechargeable and dense polysilicon have further declined, while N-type polysilicon remains stable.
The prices of wafer have diverged throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for M10 P-type wafer is RMB 1.90/Pc, while G12 P-type wafer is priced at RMB 3.00/Pc and M10 N-type is priced at RMB2.25/Pc.
Regarding P-type wafers, the pricing for 182mm and 210mm P-type wafers stands at 1.9 yuan and 3.0 yuan per piece, respectively, closely aligned with their cost structures. On the supply side, the swift shift of wafer manufacturers towards the production of N-type wafers has significantly diminished the output proportion of P-type wafers.
Concurrently, the shutdown of production capacities for downstream P-type cells on the demand side indicates a gloomy market for P-type products. Additionally, the stagnant price is attributed to low trading volumes, and P-type wafers have evolved into customized products, with their price trends and trading volumes contingent on the delivery of P-type projects.
Turning to N-type wafers, the supply side witnesses a double-digit increase in the output proportion of N-type wafers, projected to reach 70%. On the demand side, cell manufacturers are predominantly shifting towards N-type products, providing robust support for the demand for N-type wafers.
However, it is crucial to note the potential risk of increasing inventory for N-type wafers due to oversupply. There remains a possibility that the supply of N-type wafers will exceed demand, leading to fluctuations and a gradual decline in N-type wafer prices.
Moreover, concerning wafer sizes, rectangle wafers will dominate the N-type wafer market, and as the trading volume of various rectangle wafer sizes increases, we can expect more quoted prices for different sizes of N-type rectangle wafers. This week, the price of P-type wafers has remained unchanged, while the price of N-type modules has dropped to 2.1 yuan per piece.
Cell prices have remained stable this week. The mainstream concluded price for M10 cell is RMB 0.37/W, while G12 cell is priced at RMB 0.38/W. The price of M10 mono TOPCon cell is RMB 0.46/W.
Concerning P-type cells, the pricing for 182mm and 210mm P-type cells is set at 0.37 yuan and 0.38 yuan per watt, respectively. Notably, P-type cell prices have dipped below the cost line, leading to the essentially complete shutdown of its production capacity. Once cell manufacturers complete the delivery of ongoing projects, the production capacity for P-type cells will be cleared out.
On the supply side, major cell manufacturers have extensively halted P-type production capacities, resulting in a sharp decline in P-type cell output. Additionally, the demand from module manufacturers for P-type cells is rapidly diminishing.
With a decrease in both supply and demand, P-type cell prices are currently at a standstill. Specialized manufacturers are taking the strategic approach of halting production and stockpiling inventory to maximize profits when delivering the remaining P-type products.
On the flip side, regarding N-type cells, the supply side sees a higher share of total cell output. However, on the cost front, the positive support from the prices of N-type polysilicon and wafers is aiding in stabilizing N-type cell prices.
On the demand side, there is a significant increase in customer demand. Consequently, N-type cell prices have remained stable this week, supported by a balanced combination of supply, demand, and cost factors.
Module prices have remained stable throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for 182mm facial mono PERC module is RMB 0.98/W, 210mm facial mono PERC module is priced at RMB 1.00/W, 182mm bifacial glass PERC module at RMB 1.00/W, and 210mm bifacial glass PERC module at RMB 1.01/W.
On the demand side, module manufacturers are experiencing a decline in the month-on-month growth rate of modules in January. With the conclusion of the last quarter’s earnings and the approach of the holiday season, both domestic and overseas demand have slowed down.
Module manufacturers are displaying a reduced inclination to boost output, opting to cut production to varying extents. The anticipated order amounts for January are relatively pessimistic on the demand side. Even top-tier manufacturers with existing orders supporting their production are witnessing a decreasing trend in order volume, let alone other manufacturers with fewer orders who find themselves compelled to cut or halt production.
Regarding domestic demand, January marks the off-season, and the purchasing demand for ground-based and distributed solar projects is at its lowest point for the entire year. However, overseas markets are showing signs of recovery, with a positive turn in month-on-month export volumes.
Furthermore, the continuous decline in module prices has spurred demand in the Indian market, while Brazil and Saudi Arabia experience a boom due to supportive government policies. Nevertheless, the export to the European market has not yet turned positive, and it will take time to deplete existing inventory and witness a recovery in demand. This week, both P-type and N-type module prices have remained stable.
With China intensifying export controls, Japanese companies relying on crucial battery and semiconductor materials manufactured in China are contemplating alternative solutions. They are actively seeking materials sources to achieve supply diversification.
1. Alternative Solution Cannot be Translated into Immediate Success
While countries like Japan and South Korea have swiftly initiated strategies to find alternative solutions, the majority are still in the evaluation, research, or testing stages, unable to provide immediate assistance.
Even if alternative graphite production sources outside of China, such as in North America or Australia, are identified, it is likely to increase manufacturing costs, thereby impacting the selling price or profit performance of electric vehicles.
2. Back to Negotiation with Chinese Manufacturers
The post-export control scenario may accentuate the cost advantage of Chinese battery manufacturers, influencing the effectiveness of various protective measures taken by Europe and the United States to counter Chinese electric vehicles.
Consequently, countries may ultimately realize that returning to the negotiation table with China is more practical than going through a prolonged process, aligning with China’s primary objective.
3. Material Edge Won’t Last Forever
The continuous export restrictions on critical materials by China may encourage countries to persist in developing alternative solutions. For instance, OEMs like Tesla, GM, and Stellantis are actively investing in research on rare-earth-free motors to reduce dependency on Chinese rare earths.
While currently constrained by battery material technology, graphite remains the highest-value anode material. Yet, numerous companies are also exploring anodes with higher energy density, such as silicon oxide (SiO) and lithium metal (Li Metal).
Therefore, China must recognize that material advantages may not be permanent, and the core lies in the ability for technological iteration.
Source to TrendForce, the most recent update on solar materials pricing indicates an ongoing decline in Polysilicon and Module prices, while Wafer and Cell prices are holding steady for the time being.
Polysilicon prices continue to decline throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for mono recharge polysilicon is RMB 64/KG, while mono dense polysilicon is priced at RMB 62/KG and N-type polysilicon is currently priced at RMB 66/KG.
Looking at the market transaction dynamics, there’s not a significant volume of orders being placed. Some companies are gearing up for December’s order negotiations. Observing the price trend, polysilicon manufacturers are adjusting prices for both new and existing orders. Even some previously high-priced orders have experienced declines.
Furthermore, the average price of N-type polysilicon in new orders is generally below the 70000 yuan/ton mark. On the supply side, numerous projects are now in production, leading to a constant increase in the marginal increment of polysilicon and further swelling polysilicon inventory. Consequently, polysilicon manufacturers are grappling with increased pressure to de-stock.
Despite a month-on-month rise in operation rates for professional wafer manufacturers, creating additional demand for polysilicon, the surplus supply remains challenging to address.
This week, polysilicon prices continue their downward trajectory, and there’s a significant oversupply of polysilicon. Moreover, with customer installation demand still not turning positive, crystal pulling manufacturers are adopting a pessimistic stance toward future polysilicon prices, displaying a cautious approach to purchasing polysilicon.
On the flip side, polysilicon manufacturers are determined to maintain current prices and show no signs of reducing prices to clear inventory. In conclusion, a tug-of-war in pricing dynamics is evident between buyers and sellers.
The prices of wafer have maintained stable throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for M10 P-type wafer is RMB 2.30/Pc, while G12 P-type wafer is priced at RMB 3.30/Pc and M10 N-type is priced at RMB2.40/Pc.
On the supply side, wafer inventory has returned to the reasonable range, sitting at approximately 1.3-1.5 billion pieces. Analyzing various wafer types, the inventory of 210mm P-type wafers has seen a notable decrease, with the consumption rate slowing due to weakened demand.
With the alleviation of inventory pressure, specialized wafer manufacturers are ramping up their operational rates, resulting in a slight month-on-month increase in wafer output. Turning to the demand side, cell manufacturers are indicating a reduction in the production of 182mm P-type cells, while there’s no change in output for other cell types.
Consequently, the purchasing demand for 182mm P-type wafers is expected to decrease. Although wafer prices are holding steady this week, considering the divergent operational rates among downstream cell manufacturers, a future divergence in prices between N-type and P-type wafers is anticipated.
Moreover, attention should be directed towards whether the demand and supply relationship can sustain stable prices after the higher wafer activation rates lead to an increase in wafer output during the same period.
Cell prices have maintained stable this week. The mainstream concluded price for M10 cell is RMB 0.46/W, while G12 cell is priced at RMB 0.56/W. The price of M10 mono TOPCon cell is RMB 0.49/W.
On the supply side, cell inventory can currently sustain for about six to seven days, but the pressure on inventory is mounting as downstream demand gradually declines. We’re currently in the midst of the technology iteration phase for N-type and P-type cells.
The production capacity of 182mm P-type cells has significantly dropped, leading to a decline in its OEM fees to 1.0-1.2 yuan. Given the current cell price and the manufacturing cost, the production line for 182mm P-type cells is operating at a loss, while the 210mm P-type cells are still profitable, thanks to orders this month.
However, as order deliveries conclude, the tense supply and demand dynamics are expected to ease. On the demand side, downstream module prices continue to slide, prompting module manufacturers to push for a reduction in cell prices. Additionally, customer demand is sluggish, and buyers are adopting a more cautious approach to future purchases.
This week, cell prices remain relatively stable, but production of 182mm P-type cells has been significantly reduced due to sustained losses, leading to a simultaneous decline in demand and supply. Nevertheless, there is still support from order deliveries for 210mm P-type cells.
In conclusion, with module prices consistently decreasing, we anticipate that cell prices will face increasing pressure in the coming weeks.
Module prices have gone down throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for 182mm facial mono PERC module is RMB 1.03/W, 210mm facial mono PERC module is priced at RMB 1.04/W, 182mm bifacial glass PERC module at RMB 1.04/W, and 210mm bifacial glass PERC module at RMB 1.05/W.
On the supply side, prices quoted by leading manufacturers to their dealers have plummeted to less than 1 yuan/W, and bidding prices for recent projects are hitting unprecedented lows. The competition among module manufacturers has reached a fever pitch, driving prices in the sector to their rock bottom.
As the N-type and P-type technology undergo iteration, production capacity is slated to be officially cleared at its current low price. Shifting to the demand side, October saw a month-on-month decrease in new PV installations, indicating a clear decline in installation demand, according to statistics from the NEA.
Although distributed PV installed capacity remains robust, it cannot sustain a significant increase, and centralized ground installations are entering their off-season. Additionally, there’s no indication of a rebound in overseas demand, making it challenging for customer demand for module purchases to turn positive.
As the year draws to a close and earinings reports will be reported, manufacturers are grappling with the pressure to meet annual goals, intensifying the need to clear inventory. However, they find themselves in a precarious position in negotiations with customers, compelling them to further reduce prices to facilitate more shipments.
In summary, module prices are experiencing a decline this week and are anticipated to further decrease in the near future.
According to IJWEI’s report, Japanese companies heavily reliant on key battery and semiconductor materials manufactured in China are expanding their sources as China intensifies export controls.
On October 20th, China announced that certain graphite items, including high-purity, high-strength, and high-density synthetic graphite materials and their products, cannot be exported without permission.
This regulation officially takes effect on December 1st of this year. Graphite is crucial for manufacturing the negative electrode of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. While the permit requirements do not constitute a ban, they may lead to a reduction in China’s graphite exports.
Over 80% of the natural graphite used in Japan comes from China. In case of a disruption in graphite imports, Mitsubishi Chemical Group in Japan is considering strengthening its production of electrode materials in Shandong. The company is also exploring partnerships in Australia and production in Mozambique and Norway to diversify the supply.
Representatives from Nissan Motor Company have stated that they will consider sourcing graphite and other key electric vehicle materials from alternative regions.
Panasonic’s battery subsidiary, Panasonic Energy, is collaborating with a Canadian graphite company on research for large-scale production of electrode materials. In September of this year, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and the Canadian government signed an agreement to strengthen the battery supply chain.
According to data from the United States Geological Survey, the global graphite production reached 1.3 million tons in 2022, experiencing a 15% year-on-year growth due to the popularity of electric vehicles. China contributes to 70% of the graphite production and is a major producer of synthetic graphite. China serves as the primary low-cost exporter for both types of materials.
“The costs of procuring graphite will inevitably rise, the focus will be on how companies maintain their competitive advantage while bearing the costs.” as stated by Noboru Sato, visiting professor at Nagoya University.
Graphite is not the sole crucial mineral for China. In August of this year, China intensified export restrictions on gallium and germanium, vital rare metals used in the manufacturing of electronic components and semiconductors. Customs data indicates a significant decrease in the export of these two metals.
Japanese manufacturers are also exploring materials sources unaffected by China’s export controls. Kanto Denka Kogyo, a chemical producer, is testing lithium compounds from regions like South America to manufacture battery electrolytes. The company is also collaborating with Sumitomo Metal Mining to test technology for lithium recovery from discarded electric vehicle batteries.
At the same time, Japan is using diplomacy and foreign aid to ensure a stable supply of critical materials. Both China and Japan have confirmed the establishment of new bilateral export control dialogues. Senior trade officials from both sides will engage in regular consultations on export restriction issues.
The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is seeking JPY 260 billion (approximately USD 1.74 billion) in the supplementary budget proposal for this fiscal year to support Japan’s battery manufacturing. Some of the funds may be allocated for investing in companies producing synthetic graphite in Japan.
Last year, Japan’s additional budget provided approximately JPY 200 billion to support the extraction, refining, and processing of critical minerals. Companies investing overseas in the production of rare metals will receive subsidies of up to half.
Companies outside Japan are also taking action to mitigate the impact of Chinese supply restrictions. According to Business Korea’s report, South Korea’s company Posco Future M, which produces battery materials, has preemptively planned to manufacture synthetic graphite using coal tar, a byproduct that can be sourced domestically in Korea.
Source to TrendForce, the latest solar materials price revealed that Polysilicon prices are declining due to decreased orders and increased supply; Wafer prices remain stable but face potential pressure.
Polysilicon prices continue to decline throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for mono recharge polysilicon is RMB 65/KG, while mono dense polysilicon is priced at RMB 63/KG, and N-type polysilicon is currently priced at RMB 68/KG.
Looking at the market transaction dynamics, orders took a hit this week, and collectively signing orders within a centralized period has ceased. Observing the price trends, major manufacturers are experiencing a decline in new orders, causing a further narrowing of the transaction prices for both N-type and P-type polysilicon.
Looking at the supply side, the new production capacity of leading polysilicon manufacturers is set to come online this month, contributing to an uptick in output. Consequently, the polysilicon supply will continue to outpace demand, leading to a further increase in polysilicon inventory, which has now reached the range of 90,000 to 120,000 tons this week. Shifting the focus to the downstream industrial chain, the wafer inventory has reverted to a reasonable level, and there’s a slight uptick in the activation rate of crystal-pulling manufacturers.
This has resulted in an increased demand for polysilicon. However, this heightened demand is insufficient to counterbalance the marginal increase in polysilicon supply. In summary, the price of polysilicon is on a downward trajectory, and with new production capacities slated to come online by year-end, the short-term supply-demand imbalance is unlikely to be rectified.
Compounding this, the absence of concrete demand from customers indicates an anticipated further dip in polysilicon prices. The inventory of N-type polysilicon is expanding, intensifying pressure on upstream raw materials. Consequently, the support for N-type polysilicon prices is diminishing, and the price gap between N-type and P-type polysilicon is expected to shrink.
The prices of wafers have remained stable throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for the M10 P-type wafer is RMB 2.30/Pc, while the G12 P-type wafer is priced at RMB 3.30/Pc and the M10 N-type is priced at RMB2.40/Pc.
On the supply side, there are indications that specialized polysilicon manufacturers may ramp up their operating rates, primarily due to a reduction in wafer inventory. The current inventory of wafers has dwindled to the range of 1.4-1.6 billion pieces, bringing substantial relief to wafer manufacturers from inventory pressures. Switching to the demand side, the pressure on cell demand persists, with cell inventory remaining unconsumed.
Consequently, some cell manufacturers are contemplating production cuts to mitigate potential future losses. This slowdown in demand from cell manufacturers is causing a sluggishness in the demand for wafers. Currently, both wafer and cell prices are hovering close to their production costs, empowering manufacturers on both fronts to engage in assertive bargaining. As a result, it is anticipated that price negotiations will reach a stalemate in the short term.
In summary, wafer prices have held steady this week, but it’s crucial to remain vigilant as wafer prices might face renewed pressure. This could be triggered by a decline in upstream raw material prices and the persistent lack of positive momentum in downstream demand.
Cell prices have been different with the G12 cell price rebounding and other types remaining stable this week. The mainstream concluded price for the M10 cell is RMB 0.46/W, while the G12 cell is priced at RMB 0.56/W. The price of the M10 mono TOPCon cell is RMB 0.49/W.
On the supply side, the overall cell inventory is proving challenging to deplete due to the persistently sluggish downstream demand. This situation is exerting increased pressure on cell inventory levels. Additionally, faced with the challenge of low cell prices, a portion of the high-cost P-type cell production capacity has been gradually scaled back. If prices continue to decline in the future, this segment of production capacity may eventually phase out.
This underscores the evolving landscape of P-type and N-type cell technologies, prompting cell manufacturers to reassess how they manage the older production capacity of P-type cells. Shifting to the demand side, module inventory remains elevated, yet overseas customer demand remains weak even during the peak season. In summary, cell prices have remained stable this week. With the support from the delivery of orders this month, there is intense demand for 210mm P-type cells, leading to a rebound in their prices.
Module prices have gone down slightly throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for 182mm facial mono PERC module is RMB 1.06/W, 210mm facial mono PERC module is priced at RMB 1.08/W, 182mm bifacial glass PERC module at RMB 1.07/W, and 210mm bifacial glass PERC module at RMB 1.09/W.
On the supply side, there’s a divergence in production schedules among module manufacturers. First-tier manufacturers are maintaining stable delivery schedules with sufficient orders, while second and third-tier manufacturers are compelled to scale back production to avert losses. Additionally, it’s crucial to monitor the impact of backhaul orders’ sale prices on domestic module prices. Turning to the demand side, overseas module inventory remains elevated, coupled with sluggish purchasing demand.
The customer demand for modules is heading into the off-season. Furthermore, the demand for distributed PV installations is struggling to turn positive due to overall weak demand. Faced with weak downstream demand, module manufacturers are adopting a strategy of lowering prices to facilitate more shipments, driven by the imperative to clear inventory by year-end. In summary, module prices are anticipated to experience a slight decline this week.