Thursday, April 5, 2012

Solar prices plummet in past two weeks, manufacturers on the defense

TAIWAN: According to EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, solar PV market demand has plummeted recently due to the passing of Germany’s new subsidy policy, in addition to news of the Italian government’s plans to shrink solar subsidies also.

Furthermore, as the anti-dumping duties imposed on China by the US are lower than generally expected, it is said that Taiwanese module makers have been asked to temporarily suspend shipments. With the steady news of unfavorable market factors, this week’s spot prices saw significant adjustments.

PV vendors indicate, currently the Italian government’s policy draft plans for significant solar subsidy cuts – the new policy is expected to be passed in mid-2012. Furthermore, as Germany’s new subsidy policy officially took effect on April 1, market demand has been on a steady downward slide for the past two weeks.

As buyers’ price expectations are a far cry from what vendors are prepared to offer, the spot market is looking somewhat barren. According to EnergyTrend’s data, offers from traders are nearing previous lows – polysilicon offers for instance, are currently around US$21-22/kg, while on average selling price is about $0.5-1/kg higher.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

EnergyTrend research indicates, currently solar cell manufacturers are keeping stock levels around one week’s worth or so. Some module makers have received requests from clients to temporarily suspend shipments, but whether or not the orders will be cancelled is unclear as of yet. Additionally, manufacturers have lowered capacity utilization rates significantly, and are conservative towards Q2 levels. Makers are engaging in strict inventory management to prevent losses due to excess stock.

Affected by weakened demand on the European market, this week’s spot prices fell significantly as wafer and solar cell makers aggressively cleaned out excess materials. This week’s lowest polysilicon price was $22/kg, while average polysilicon price was $23.8/kg, a 6.87 percent decrease. As for silicon wafers, noticeably weaker demand has resulted in further price reductions recently – this week’s lowest multi Si wafer price fell to $1/piece, while average Si wafer price was $1.103/piece, a decrease of 3.42 percent.

Mono-Si wafer price saw smaller adjustments – this week’s average price was $1.561/piece, a 0.45 percent decrease. As for solar cells, this week’s average price was $0.477/Watt, a decline of 3.44 percent.

Based on the current trend, EnergyTrend forecasts high-efficiency product (17-17.2 percent) price will fall below $0.5/Watt in mid-April, while standard product price will be in the $0.4-0.45/Watt range. In terms of solar modules, as Taiwanese manufacturers’ capacity utilization rates have decreased and price quotes in the Chinese market have not increased, module price fell slightly – this week’s average was $0.822/Watt, a 1.08 percent decrease.

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