PV polysilicon prices continue to plummet

17. September 2012 | Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends, Products | By:  Becky Beetz

Oversupply is continuing to plague the photovoltaic polysilicon market, according to IHS iSuppi, which say Tier 1 suppliers need to reduce production to alleviate the market. A revival could be seen this year; however, investigations by China into the U.S. and Korean markets are hampering development.


Polysilicon oversupply is continuing to adversely affect prices.

In its latest PV Polysilicon Price Tracker Report, IHS has found that polysilicon prices have continued to fall since December, with contract prices for 9N polysilicon decreasing to $27.80/kg in August and spot market prices to $21.90/kg. Meanwhile, contract pricing for 6N to 8N polysilicon was said to be $22.70/kg, while spot market pricing was at $20.10/kg.

"Oversupply remains the dominant trend impacting the PV polysilicon market," stated Henning Wicht, director for PV advanced products at IHS. "The glut has caused pricing to drop precipitously, impacting profitability for polysilicon suppliers."

In addition to oversupply, Wicht said pricing has been further affected by a "sharp decrease" in the demand of photovoltaic modules, and China’s instigation of countervailing duty and anti-dumping (AD) investigations against the U.S. and AD case against South Korea, and the threat of a similar investigation in the EU.

As such, and on top of the "slight" production reductions seen in August, "Tier 1 suppliers need to consider reducing production" to stabilize polysilicon prices. If utilization rates are not reduced, oversupply will continue for the next year said IHS.

"Now is the time for Tier 1 polysilicon suppliers to seriously think about a cut in production, given that profit margins for these companies are already very weak," commented Wicht. "Based on the market developments in July and August—as well as the forecast for September—a worse profit/loss situation in the third quarter is forecast for major polysilicon makers than in the second quarter."

September and October could see polysilicon demand pick up, continued IHS, although the threat of tariffs could "frighten" buyers away. Indeed, if tariffs are imposed on U.S., Korean and European polysilicon manufacturers, prices are predicted to further decrease. "[The affected] companies will be forced to accelerate price declines, since China is the dominant buyer of polysilicon."

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