In 2021, the photovoltaic industry, which has gotten rid of subsidies, opened the beginning of the “14th Five-Year Plan” with its head high. Especially under the mainstream trend of global carbon emission reduction, both the industrial status and the market prospects are bright. Enterprises are all gearing up.

However, the “crazy” photovoltaic industry chain prices in the first quarter really poured cold water on the boiling downstream. Silicon materials rose, wafers rose, solar cells rose, and modules rose, and the terminal market as a whole fell into a wait-and-see state. Is there still a scene for the expected market outbreak this year? The mainstream view of industry insiders is: “Leave the solution to the market.”

“Perfect Storm”

In 2020, the “ice and fire” market demand caused the overall price of the industry chain to stage a “V” reversal. At that time, the industry judged that the price would eventually return to rationality after the end of the rush to install demand at the end of the year, but the expectation was finally disappointed again.

Among them, the most popular market is polysilicon materials. According to the weekly quotation (spot price) of PVInfoLink tracked by Polaris Solar Photovoltaic Network, the price of polysilicon materials will rise from 51 yuan/kg to 66 yuan/kg in the first quarter of 2021, an increase of 29%; the price of monocrystalline silicon materials will rise from 83 yuan/kg To 125 yuan/kg, an increase of 51%.

Regarding the reason for the rise in silicon materials, a related person from a silicon materials giant analyzed that, on the one hand, under the strong target of the “30·60” country, the demand for photovoltaic installations of power central enterprises has exploded, and market expectations have generally risen. However, compared with silicon wafers, solar cells, and There is a large gap between module production capacity and silicon material production capacity. Under the market prediction of tight silicon material supply and demand, downstream companies have a strong willingness to stock up; on the other hand, 90% of the production capacity of the top five silicon material plants has been locked by long-term orders since 2020. The price of unavailable bulk orders soared, “silicon wafer companies even raise money to grab silicon materials.”

The rapid rise in the price of silicon materials has also triggered a price resonance in the downstream industry chain. In the first three months, the price of polycrystalline silicon wafers increased by 34%, and the price of monocrystalline silicon wafers rose by up to 18%; the price of polycrystalline silicon wafers rose by 20%, and the price of monocrystalline silicon wafers increased by 20%. The price rose by up to 1%.

It is not difficult to find from the price of the cell that the price of mainstream monocrystalline cells preferred by large downstream ground power stations has not risen all the way, but has experienced first decline and then rise. Compared with the beginning of the year, the price actually decreased. This can also be seen. The round of price increases is not driven by actual downstream demand, but rather driven by high market expectations. The rise in polycrystalline cells is due to the bullish demand in India, the main demand country for polycrystalline cells, driving demand for goods.

Of course, another main reason for the small price increase of monocrystalline cells is that they are subject to the slowdown in component demand.

“With the rising prices of raw materials, component companies have basically made losses in the previous orders, which means that the more they receive, the more losses they lose.” A person familiar with the matter said. As a result, in the recent component bidding, the quotations of first-line component companies have been firm, and they have lowered their operating rates to cope with upstream price increases and downstream demand that did not meet expectations.

Since the beginning of 2021, the price of monocrystalline modules has risen by as much as 4%, and the price of polycrystalline modules has followed the rise of monocrystalline, and to support the recovery of market demand in India, prices have also risen by 4%.

“In fact, it is not just the price of the industrial chain. Under the epidemic, the imbalance in trade between countries has caused the price of shipping to rise. Inflation has affected the soaring prices of commodities such as aluminum, copper and steel. In addition to the impact of exchange rates, the photovoltaic industry is actually facing Perfect storm’.” Zhuang Yan, President of Canadian Solar Power Group, said at the 2021 Photovoltaic Leadership Conference.

However, there are exceptions. The price of photovoltaic glass in the popular 2020 will be reduced. Since 2021, the price of photovoltaic glass has fallen steadily, but suddenly this week, the price of 3.2mm glass has dropped from 40 yuan to 28 yuan, a decrease of 35% in the first quarter; 2mm glass has dropped from 32.5 yuan to 22 yuan, a decrease of 37% in the first quarter .

According to the news obtained by Polaris Solar Photovoltaic Network, the transaction price of 3.2mm has even reached 27 yuan. “The process of the glass industry has its particularity. Once it is ignited, it cannot be interrupted and requires continuous production. However, the component factory has reduced the operating rate, the demand is sluggish, and the inventory backlog of the glass enterprise has led to the price reduction.” The above-mentioned insider revealed.

The market can still be expected

From the perspective of the terminal market, it is reported that although central SOEs have a swing in photovoltaics or wind power, they are still biased towards photovoltaics. According to a leading private power station developer, whether it is domestic power station development or internationally, it has been affected by the price increase of components. For this reason, the development rhythm is being controlled, but the grid connection time has not been adjusted, “because the price of components will likely drop in the future. .” He judged.

“At present, the upstream and downstream of the industrial chain are in a period of fierce gaming.” The results of the game are developing in a positive direction.

In addition to the sharp drop in glass prices, solar cells were also affected by high inventories and began to lower their prices. On the evening of March 25, Tongwei announced the price of solar cells in April, except that polycrystalline cells rose by RMB 0.01/W, and prices of monocrystalline products fell across the board. Among them, the price of 210mm battery is reduced by 0.13 yuan, the price of 166mm is reduced by 0.14 yuan, and the price of 158.75mm is reduced slightly by 0.02 yuan.

At the same time, cell manufacturers that maintained full production in the first quarter also began to lower their operating rates.

According to the silicon wafer giant, the enthusiasm for downstream silicon wafer purchases was high in March, and the supply of silicon wafers exceeded demand. In the latest quotation in April, LONGi’s monocrystalline wafer price was flat in mid-March.

As for silicon materials, information from the Silicon Industry Branch shows that according to the production and operation plan of domestic polysilicon enterprises in April, domestic production is expected to decrease by about 6.5% from the previous month, while the amount of imported polysilicon is expected to increase slightly during the same period. Therefore, the total domestic polysilicon supply in April will be Basically stable. However, affected by urgent orders and short orders, the price of silicon materials still has a tendency to rise, but the rising trend slows down and may reach the peak in the first half of the year in April.

“Overall I think cost reduction is a trend. In this process, the partial structural imbalance is an episode, and overall will not affect our big demand.” At the Global Photovoltaic Leaders Summit, Chen Xingyu, President of the Photovoltaic Division of Tongwei Co., Ltd. The current price turmoil said, “The China Photovoltaic Industry Association expects that in 2021, the domestic PV installed capacity will be 55-65GW. If the price drops in place, the market size will be high, otherwise it will be low. It depends on the outcome of the game in the industry chain.”

Liu Luping, vice president of the Party Committee of China General Nuclear Power New Energy Holding Company, held the same view: “I think the impact is still short-term. The market will have a repair process. After the repair, the production capacity will also increase, and other changes will not affect it. The big direction.”

Hu Dan, a senior analyst at IHS Markit, analyzed that the current price will decrease profitability for some projects, but this demand has completely disappeared, and there may be some delay in the time point. Therefore, this year’s demand may still be released in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2020, domestic PV installed capacity increased by 29.5GW, which is close to the full-year installed capacity of 2019.

Regarding the global PV installed capacity in 2020, IHS Markit expects that the industry will overcome the disadvantages of supply chain restrictions, and the world will develop more than 180GW of solar projects, of which the Chinese market will exceed 60GW; another major analysis agency Bloomberg predicts that this year’s global The installed capacity will be slightly higher than 184.5GW, mainly depending on the installed capacity of high-growth markets such as China and the United States, and the decline in optimism is expected to reach 209GW.