2012-01-12 | Editor : Ted 2996 pageviews

Upstream Price Quotes Increase, Downstream Makers Bide Time

Due to continual orders from North American regions, solar cell makers’ capacity utilization rate has increased in January. Additionally, the end of holiday vacations brings more price inquiries from European clients, increasing trading activity on the market. According to EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, as order visibility has increased and supply has tightened due to the transition of demand to high efficiency products, suppliers are gradually regaining the upper-hand in terms of prices. In consideration of the current supply and demand situation as well as the price trend, 1Q12 price will see incremental price increases.

EnergyTrend has confirmed the rising polysilicon price trend. According to EnergyTrend, many top-tier makers have already concluded Q1 contract price negotiations. Currently, only a few companies are still discussing details. In terms of contract price, makers have sold at prices of around $28-30/kg for priority clients, and US$30-40/kg for others. High-efficiency Si wafer demand remains strong, but currently only a portion of wafer makers are able to provide products with over 17% conversion efficiency. According to EnergyTrend, some Si wafer makers have already sold all of their January production and are engaging in price negotiations for February, a clear indication that high-efficiency products will remain in tight supply in the short term.

Although Taiwanese solar cell makers’ capacity utilization rate has seen significant increases due to the influx of North American orders, EnergyTrend research indicates that most orders are large-scale solar system contracts. In consideration of overall costs and IRR (internal rate of return), currently demand for high efficiency products is not high, with standard products accounting for most of demand. Therefore, downstream solar cell and module makers are mostly quoting flat prices – prices have only been increased for a portion of high efficiency products, in order to test out the market. Furthermore, Chinese makers are still mainly providing standard products and quoting flat prices, resulting in a price trend discrepancy when it comes to different product quality. EnergyTrend believes that unless the market sees a major change, based on the currently supply and demand status, in 1Q12 high efficiency products will see a gradual rise in price, while standard product price will stay flat.

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