Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rush order influx continues, makers treading cautiously

TAIWAN: Benefitting from the continual influx of rush orders, Taiwanese manufacturers have had their hands full in Q1. While the industry is wondering whether this will continue into Q2 or not, according to research by EnergyTrend, TrendForce's green energy research division, makers have already begun negotiating orders for April.

As some makers have even initiated discussion with clients about long-term OEM project, makers indicate visibility is satisfactory for the time being. Related vendors are extremely conservative towards the current market, and unwilling to make conclusive statements about the Q2 outlook.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

Affected by EU and US anti-dumping lawsuits, the number of Chinese PV makers turning to cooperate with Taiwanese manufacturers has increased significantly, but activity has been limited to the midstream solar cell and module sector. According to EnergyTrend, currently Chinese manufacturers are either adopting direct investment or establishing new companies by joint venture in Taiwan.

Although Chinese makers’ movements in Taiwan are preparations for the storm, related vendors indicate that the expansion of capacity and human resources will still depend on future order status. Currently, major Taiwanese makers’ product lines and human resources are currently at 80-90 percent. First-tier manufacturers’ annualized capacity remains fully loaded, while second and third-tier makers are utilizing over 60 percent capacity.

Furthermore, according to EnergyTrend, the cooperative activity is coming from Japan as well. To reduce production cost, Japanese manufacturer Sharp has placed more orders with Taiwanese solar cell makers. In addition to solar cell OEM, Sharp has also begun placing PV inverter orders with Taiwanese manufacturers, but at low volume. EnergyTrend believes Sharp is testing the waters in Taiwan, looking for potential long-term partners to help drive cost down.

As for this week’s spot prices, according to EnergyTrend, polysilicon spot price stayed flat, with ASP remaining at $29.68/kg. Si wafer ASP continued to climb, with multi-Si wafer ASP increasing by 2.33 percent to $1.229/piece, and mono-Si wafer ASP at $1.623, up by a slight 1.37 percent. This week’s solar cell ASP also increased slightly, by 1.35 percent, arriving at $0.527/Watt.

As for modules, quotes showed slight recovery, with ASP at $0.873, a 0.23 percent increase. EnergyTrend believes that as upstream prices continue to rise, midstream solar cell and module makers will also increase price, to reflect cost. However, cell and module makers are cautious when it comes to price adjustments; while they must raise price as cost increases, adjustments must be made gradually so as not to exceed downstream clients’ acceptable range.

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