Business conditions at UK-based integrated solar wafer producer, PV Crystalox Solar look reasonably good after reporting first-half sales of €121.6 million (H1 2008: €126.3 million), on wafer shipments of 100MW, down slightly from 110MW in the same period a year ago. The company guided shipments of between 210MW and 230MW for the year, down from last year’s guidance of 275MW.
PV Crystalox was able to maintain wafer ASP’s despite the global collapse in polysilicon prices and the knock-on affect on wafer prices due to its customer base (85%), which is focused on major PV manufacturers in Japan, Germany and China.
“We are pleased to have delivered this resilient performance in a very challenging market with global module installations down 20 – 30%, noted Dr Iain Dorrity, Chief Executive Officer, PV Crystalox Solar. “Despite the current pricing pressure, the expected volume deliveries, yield and cost efficiencies give us confidence that we will produce another robust performance in the second half.”
However, the company noted that it was experiencing strong price competition on weak overall demand in the market, which had forced the company to lower contract prices in recent months. PV Crystalox warned that ASP’s would be significantly lower than those seen in the first-half due to the continued pricing pressure.
Key counters to diminishing returns for the wafer producer include continued emphasis on production cost reductions and a new emphasis on improving ingot/wafer yields. The company should also benefit from an increase in multi-crystalline ingot production capacity to 350 MW, which came on-stream in the first-half of the year.
However, the key defensive move would seem to be coming from its polysilicon production plant in Bitterfeld, Germany. The company said that polysilicon production commenced in July, 2009 with an output of 2MT in the same month.
PV Crystalox expects to ramp up production to 200MT this year and continues to guide for 1800MT in 2011. At this production level, the company claims that the internal cost of polysilicon would be less than the level it currently purchases from polysilicon suppliers.
The challenge will be to manage the polysilicon price declines through the rest of 2009 and 2010, should market analyst’s projections of prices declining to the US$40 per kg levels be correct.