02 July 2012
PV polysilicon prices are forecast to drop 48% and wafer prices 56% year-over-year in 2012, according to NPD Solarbuzz Q2’12 Polysilicon and Wafer Supply Chain Quarterly Report.
With such severe price declines, only 12 Chinese PV polysilicon manufacturers are still producing, and more than half of these companies are running at significantly reduced utilization rates. Industry-wide, wafering plant utilization is forecast to average only 53% in 2012.
But as prices approach current cash costs of even tier 1 makers, price declines are expected to slow to less than 7% per year. Solarbuzz projects average 2013 polysilicon prices to be $23/Kg and wafer prices to be $0.25/W. Even at these low prices, the report says top tier makers have a path to positive margins.
“Although the 30% plus net profit margins of the not-so-distant past are unlikely to be seen again by any PV polysilicon makers in the next few years, leading producers are targeting total costs of less than $20 per kilogram in 2013, which may enable modest profitability,” NPD Solarbuzz Vice President Charles Annis said.
Lower-priced polysilicon translates to lower-cost PV wafers, the company says. And wafer makers are continuing to drive down processing costs with holistic approaches to reducing slurry consumption, increasing recycling, reducing kerf loss, reducing electricity consumption, increasing conversion efficiency, and more productivity enhancements.
In the new normal, low-priced PV polysilicon and wafer industry environments, cost reduction is critical for both survival and success.
The NPD Solarbuzz Polysilicon and Wafer Supply Chain Quarterly Report tracks and analyzes cost metrics on a quarterly basis.