Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Solar cell makers face profitability challenges in quarter due to falling price and shrinking market demand

TAIWAN: According to EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, as upstream raw material price decreased rapidly and manufacturers sustained fewer inventory depreciation losses in Q3, most makers’ Q3 figures were better than those from the previous quarter. However, related manufacturers indicate that demand has not increased notably in Q4, global inventory levels remain relatively high, and the industry is entering the traditional slow season. Consequently, EnergyTrend believes that manufacturers will continue to face operational challenges until Q1 of 2012.

As for conversion efficiency rates, mainstream product conversion efficiency rate was 16.4-16.6 percent in Q3, and has already reached 16.8 percent in Q4. Looking ahead, manufacturers have all set their target rates above 17 percent for Q1 of 2012. Thus, solar cell makers are currently concentrating their efforts on improving process technology in hopes of raising average conversion efficiency rate to 17 percent by the end of this year.

Furthermore, as demand remains weak, makers have been strict about solar cell price quotes. According to EnergyTrend’s research, the lowest price for 16.8 percent of the solar cells has reached the $0.6/Watt threshold, and 16.6 percent of the solar cells have prices under $0.6/Watt. As for the mainstream 3Q product (conversion efficiency rate of 16.4 percent), currently the lowest price has fallen below $0.5/Watt. Products with conversion efficiency rates of 16 percent or lower are currently secondary products that are priced per piece.

As for this week’s spot price, polysilicon, Si wafer, and solar cell price all show a downtrend. Lowest price for polysilicon was US$32/kg, while ASP fell to $38.13/kg, a decrease of 5.88 percent. With regard to Si wafers, lowest multi-Si wafer price fell to $1.41/piece, whereas mono-Si wafer price stayed at $1.9/piece. This week’s multi-Si wafer price decreased significantly, with ASP declining by 10.4 percent to $1.534/piece. Mono-Si ASP was $2.098/piece, a decrease of 8.54 percent. Solar cell price has fallen below the $0.5/Watt threshold to $0.48/Watt, and ASP decreased by 6.74 percent to $0.623/Watt. As for modules, solar module ASP fell to $1.07/Watt, a 0.65 percent decrease.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

Additionally, this week Taiwanese manufacturers have been displaying their newest products at Solar Power International’s convention in Dallas, and it is clear that makers are focusing on lowering cost and increasing efficiency. For instance, Motech boasted their new “LEO cell”, a multi-Si solar cell with increased conversion efficiency (17.4 percent) from new process technology. Thus, not only will manufacturers face an oversupply situation in 2012, but increasing product conversion efficiency will be another important challenge for makers to overcome if they are to survive the economic downturn.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.