PV Price Watch: n-type polysilicon price falls to US$5.5/kg

By Carrie Xiao
The gap between polysilicon and n-type polysilicon prices continues to narrow. Image: PV Tech

The price of n-type polysilicon has fallen to US$5.5/kg (RMB40/kg) during the week of 13 May, according to EnergyTrend’s latest figures.

According to figures from the Silicon Industry Division of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, prices of polysilicon and wafers have continued to fall since the beginning of the month.

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In the first week of May, the lowest transaction price of mono popcorn material dropped to RMB35,000/ton (US$4,845.2/ton), and the average market price was RMB37,100/ton (US$5,135.9/ton), with a decline of 8.17%; the average transaction price for mono dense material has declined to RMB39,000/ton (US$5,398.9/ton), a decrease of 8.88% compared to the previous month.

The charts below show that the price difference between polysilicon and n-type polysilicon is narrower. The average price for polysilicon during the week of 13 May was between RMB36 and 42/kg.

The price of n-type material is also falling further. The average transaction prices for n-type rod material and granular silicon are RMB45,300/ton (US$6,271/ton) and RMB40,000/ton (US$5,537.3/ton), respectively, a month-on-month decrease of 7.93% and 6.98%. Currently, the price difference between n-type and p-type rod silicon is RMB4,300/ton.

Between EnergyTrend and  Shanghai Metals Market (SMM), the difference in n-type polysilicon is nearly RMB4, as the latter did not register a price decrease from the previous week. N-type polysilicon has been on a downward trend since the end of March, as seen in the chart below.

“The pessimistic market outlook and the pressure of high inventories are the primary factors contributing to the ongoing price decline. At present, the polysilicon price has already breached the cash cost for the vast majority of companies, leading to an increased maintenance expectation,” said the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association.

In a LinkedIn post, Bernreuter Research highlighted that the price of n-type polysilicon this week is at the same level as that of p-type material two weeks prior. “The price of high-quality polysilicon for n-type wafers in China has reached US$5/kg now – the same amount that was paid for lower-quality p-type material two weeks ago.”

Based on the incomplete statistics from the Silicon Industry Division, as of the week ending 8 May, three polysilicon production companies out of the 17 in China are conducting regular maintenance. Furthermore, five companies are planning to carry out maintenance or technical upgrades ahead of schedule this month, and the pace at which three newly operational companies are ramping up production is slower than anticipated.

This is expected to ease the excessive growth in polysilicon supply. Polysilicon production for the month of May is projected to be around 190,000 tons, which is broadly on par with the numbers registered in April.

However, Tongwei is expected to ramp up its new 200,000-ton plant in Baoshan, Yunnan province this month, while three new entrants aim to start production this month, said Bernreuteur Research.

While the price of polysilicon continues to fall, the price of wafers is falling in parallel. According to data released by the PV Industry Association on 9 May, over the past two weeks, the average transaction price of p-type 182mm mono wafers (M10) has fallen to RMB1.57/piece (US$0.22/piece), a weekly decline of 3.68%.

The average transaction price of 210mm mono wafers (G12) has fallen below RMB2/piece this week for both EnergyTrend and InfoLink, as shown in the chart above, which also includes n-type wafer prices for 182mm wafers.

The lowest price of n-type M10 wafers is RMB1.35/piece, with the market average price at RMB1.4/piece, a sharp decline of 9.68% compared to the previous period. It is worth noting that a price inversion has emerged between p-type M10 wafers and n-type M10 wafers

The PV Industry Association has pointed out that the current wafer prices have deviated from the basic supply and demand operations and are heading towards an irrational direction.

“After the wafer inventory peaked briefly at the end of March, there was a slight destocking in April. Companies have adopted out-sourcing, dual distribution and polysilicon OEM to replace ingot pulling. The supply and demand relationship for large-size wafers has slightly improved, but cash losses for wafers have not improved,” said the PV Industry Association.

Earlier this week, regarding the issue of plummeting prices, Li Xiande, the chair of Jinko, said: “The product prices in the market are currently at a low level, and the entire industry chain is under profit-making pressure.

“From a cost perspective, it is less likely that industry chain prices will continue to fall. The PV market competition in Q1 was relatively fierce, and there were fluctuations in industry chain prices. The company predicted that capacity that lacks market competitiveness and reacts slowly to technology innovations will be phased out at an accelerated pace.”

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