Taiwan-based solar wafer producers could return to profitability on higher ASPs

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According to EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, continued strong demand for high-efficiency solar wafers in Asia is pushing wafer ASPs to reach around US$1.0/piece in February, 2014.

As a result, the market research firm expects Taiwan-based producers to breakeven or actually produce a profit for the first time in several years, caused by chronic overcapacity in the wafer manufacturing sector.

Demand for high-performance wafers from Taiwanese producers is also pushing prices from suppliers to above US$1/piece.

Arthur Hsu, research manager of EnergyTrend said, “Taiwanese wafer manufacturers have achieved full-production status currently. However, they still can’t satisfy the large incoming demand and thus delay all the lead time. Relevant manufacturers have been searching for outsourcing opportunities aggressively so they can get through all the orders. On the other hand, January wafer price have been revised upward continuously. Current data shows that wafer price for Taiwanese manufacturers has reached US$1.01-1.05/piece, which increased US$0.03-0.05/piece, a 3.1%-5.1% rise in contrast to December price.”

Wafer prices are also inching-up on the back of rising polysilicon prices, which EnergyTrend said reached US$18.498/kg in the first full-week of January, 2014.

Bernreuter Research said last week that it expected polysilicon prices to rise (US$21/kg to US$24/kg) in the first-half of the year but end the year below current levels due to as much as 66,000MT of new low-cost polysilicon capacity could come on-stream in 2014.

Taiwan-based Green Energy Technology (GET) said recently strong sales would lead to capacity expansion as utilisation rates are expected to remain at 95% in the first quarter of 2014.

Sino-American Silicon, another Taiwan wafer producer recently reported December, 2013 revenue of US$67.7 million, up 5.9% month-on-month and 13.7% year-on-year.

Taiwanese producers are benefiting from increased outsourcing for wafers, cells and modules, primarily from PV manufacturers in China and Japan as product is used to meet domestic demand and beat anti-dumping duties in the US on Chinese produced solar cells.

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