Not only the U.S. market but the global solar market is looking stronger for the next few years in light of the extension of the U.S. investment tax credit, and this means increased demand across the solar value chain.
One of the tightest parts of this chain has been the market for multicrystalline silicon wafers, where prices have long been depressed and new investments scant. However, a new analysis by EnergyTrend indicates that new capacity coming online in 2016 will more than satisfy market demand.
EnergyTrend predicts that enough wafer capacity to produce 5 GW of PV cells annually will come online over the course of 2016, which will also limit price increases. The company notes that multi-si wafer prices have gone up rapidly in January as a result of limited supply, and expects that prices will peak in February and fall thereafter.
However, EnergyTrend found that the tightness in the multi-wafer market has not been sufficient to substantially drive up PV cell prices.
The situation for monocrystalline silicon wafers is very different, and EnergyTrend says that the oversupply in this market shows no sign of ending. The company estimates that 15 GW of mono wafer capacity was online in 2015, well more than the 9.5 GW of demand during the year.
EnergyTrend estimates current mono wafer prices at US$0.89 per piece, and says that it expects prices to gradually fall. The company additionally notes that LONGi, Zhonghuan and GCL are all adding mono wafer capacity, which will further aggravate the oversupply condition.