The polysilicon market has experienced great turbulence in 2021. Due to the capacity mismatch of the overall photovoltaic supply chain, the price of silicon materials has mostly maintained an upward trend throughout the year. In addition to the rise in the transaction price of polysilicon in China’s domestic market, the price of overseas materials, which has made the price relatively stable, also fluctuated greatly, and the price trend throughout the year also showed an upward trend. PV InfoLink analyzes the reasons for changes and future impacts through statistics of polysilicon imports from China Customs from 2020 to 2021.
Total imports down compared to 2020
In 2021, China’s total polysilicon imports will be about 106,000 tons, compared with 138,000 tons in 2020, a year-on-year decrease of 23.1%. It is speculated that the reasons for the decline in supply are as follows:
The first is the reduction in the production capacity of overseas polysilicon manufacturers. Under the influence of the low polysilicon market price in 2019, the operation of polysilicon enterprises has been affected in various ways, especially non-Chinese manufacturers with high electricity costs. During 2019-2020, REC Silicon in the United States, OCI Korea, Hanwha and Elkem in Norway have successively withdrawn from the production and operation of polysilicon. As a result, the output of overseas silicon materials in 2020 decreased by 47% year-on-year compared with the previous year. Although manufacturers still have stocks to ship after the shutdown, the amount of overseas silicon materials that can be supplied decreases rapidly after the stocks are exhausted. South Korea has no polysilicon production capacity after the closure of OCI’s Korean plant in 2020. In 2020, due to continuous sales of inventory, it is still the largest source of polysilicon imported by China, reaching 36%, but only 3% in 2021, allowing 2021 polysilicon to be imported volume dropped significantly.
Through the chart, the import price of polysilicon in the second half of 2021 has also experienced a rapid rise. Compared with the stable price of overseas materials in 2020, the monthly average price in 2021 fluctuates significantly. The rapid increase in prices may temporarily suppress the purchase of overseas materials. This led to a gradual decline in overseas material imports in the second half of the year.
The second half of the year entered the traditional peak season of the market, but due to the bottleneck of the upstream industry, the price of the overall supply chain has risen, and the impact of China’s energy consumption policy has further pushed up the price of components, and the high shipping price has also increased the burden on manufacturers. Considering the profit, the terminal demand was suspended, and measures including delaying shipments and renegotiating prices were taken, resulting in a downward trend in China’s module exports in the second half of the traditional peak season.
Proportion and price analysis of importing countries
In 2021, imported polysilicon will mainly come from Germany and Malaysia, accounting for 75% of the total, mainly because the two countries have two non-Chinese manufacturers with relatively stable production, WACKER and OCI. Compared with 2020, the number of countries exporting polysilicon to China has decreased, and the proportion of South Korea, which used to occupy the first place in imports, has been shrinking rapidly. As there is no willingness to restart domestic production facilities in South Korea, it is expected that the proportion will approach 0 in the future. %. Other polysilicon imports from Japan or Taiwan, because there are no polysilicon production facilities in the region, may be resold because the polysilicon long orders signed in the past have not been fully used, but only a small proportion.
In terms of price, the price of imported silicon materials in various regions will generally show a monthly upward trend with the average market price in 2021, which is in line with the price change trend of the polysilicon market throughout the year. In terms of the price performance of individual countries, Germany and Malaysia, which have relatively stable production capacity and product quality, have better price performance, while other import markets with smaller import volumes or through entrepot trade are not as good as Germany in terms of price stability. and Malaysia.