In 2021, the first year of the “14th Five-Year Plan”, the photovoltaic industry in the new era of parity will usher in an overwhelming market demand under the mainstream trend of carbon emission reduction, and the price of the industry chain is simultaneously “turbulent”.
At the beginning of April, we reviewed the industry chain prices in the first quarter of this year (related reading: Q1 “Perfect Storm”: Silicon materials rose by 51%, silicon wafers rose by 34%, solar cells rose by 20%, modules rose by 4%, and glass fell. 37%), from silicon materials, silicon wafers to batteries and modules, the price theme of the upstream industry chain “increases.” At the same time, the prices of bulk commodities such as aluminum, copper, and steel have been dancing wildly. With rising shipping and exchange rates, the photovoltaic industry is facing a “perfect storm.”
At present, this “storm” is far from over, and is spreading to more areas. The price “booster” of inverters, another core equipment of photovoltaic systems, has already been pressed.
The price of silicon materials continues to rise, and the downstream continues to rise
One of the fuse of the price storm is the upstream polysilicon material.
According to PVInfoLink’s weekly quotation, since the end of last year, the price of polysilicon materials has been rising. This week, the average price of dense materials for single crystals was 137 yuan/kg, an increase of 65% from the beginning of the year. The high prices broke through 140 and rose to 145 yuan/kg; The highest price was 77 yuan/kg, and the average market price was 67 yuan/kg, up 31% from the beginning of the year.
Behind the soaring price, the Silicon Industry Branch pointed out that on the one hand, while the supply of silicon materials has basically no increase, the increase in silicon wafer production has been released one after another, and the phased mismatch of supply and demand has supported the continuous rise of prices; on the other hand, the market is very The current situation of silicon material supply in short supply may continue to predict, which makes the downstream more determined to purchase silicon materials in a timely manner. Therefore, the Silicon Industry Branch predicts that polysilicon prices will continue to rise in the near future.
The price increase continued to conduct downwards. On April 15th, LONGi announced the latest monocrystalline wafer quotations. The prices of G1, M6, and M10 rose across the board, with a maximum increase of 6.8%; on April 10, Zhonghuan, another major monocrystalline wafer giant, also increased. G12, M6, and G1 are all quoted with a maximum increase of 0.3 yuan per piece.
In the cell segment, prices have been slightly lowered due to high inventories, but the rise of silicon wafers has continued, and some cell companies have signaled an increase. However, the cells still have to compete fiercely with downstream component manufacturers. It is reported that since March, major component manufacturers have reduced their operating rates in response to upstream price increases and lower-than-expected downstream demand, and some have even fallen below 60%.
Under pressure from component companies, glass prices have taken the lead in a sharp decline, and cell companies have reduced their operating rates, but they have not yet exerted a forceful influence on upstream prices. In this regard, the Silicon Industry Branch pointed out that the current reduced demand in the intermediate links still belongs to excess demand and has not actually reversed the supply-demand relationship. If the downstream new capacity release plan remains unchanged, the growth rate of silicon material demand in the second half of the year is much greater than the current growth rate, and even if the annual increase of about 80,000 tons/year on the silicon material supply side is concentrated in the second half of the year, polysilicon supply The current relative shortage will still be maintained.
According to the calculation of the Silicon Industry Branch, the domestic supply of polysilicon materials this year will be 480,000 tons, superimposed on imported silicon materials of 100,000 tons, which is enough to support the global installed demand of 160GW. Therefore, the photovoltaic industry chain should be considered as a whole, and the production capacity or price of each intermediate link should be adjusted when necessary, so that the market can enter a new balance of supply and demand.
The two factories announced that the inverter price “takes off”?
To make matters worse, this year’s photovoltaic industry is not only facing the “competition” of upstream raw materials. As the prices of commodities such as steel, iron and copper have risen sharply, more equipment links such as brackets and cables are facing cost pressures. So far, the price of the bracket has risen by 1,000 yuan/ton.” According to a person from a bracket company.
The increase in the price of raw materials also makes the inverter, another core equipment of the photovoltaic system, “unstretched”. On April 12th and 13th, Goodway and Growatt two major inverter companies successively issued price increase notices, and the prices of some models increased by 10-15%. According to the verification of Polaris Solar Photovoltaic Network, the price increase affects only the domestic household market.
“The price increase of raw materials is something that everyone can feel. IGBT, sheet metal, screens, cables, rectifier diodes, etc., almost all things inside the machine are increasing in price.” Wang Qiang, who has been deeply involved in the photovoltaic inverter industry for many years (interviewer) (Request, pseudonym) frankly, “But the price increase is not terrible, the terrible thing is that the price increase cannot be bought.”
When the inverter companies were ordered to worry most about the shortage of chips. In early April, 53 chip companies collectively raised prices, and the chips used by inverter companies involved ST, TI, Infineon, etc., mainly for IGBT modules.
According to Wang Qiang, the major production shortages are mainly international brands. Starting in 2019, chip agents have been hoarding and selling goods, and their profits have doubled. Therefore, more and more manufacturers have begun to use domestic brands to replace them.
“Moreover, inverters need to compete with all electronic industries for chips, and there is a certain quota, not as much as you want.” The relevant person in charge of a certain line of inverter companies introduced.
The price of household inverters is the first to explode. The response from Polaris Solar Photovoltaic Network is “Inverters used in industrial, commercial and centralized large-scale power stations are also affected, but the demand outbreak period is concentrated in the second half of the year, and the volume is relatively stable. While the household market is subsidized to stimulate the demand for installed capacity to concentrate and change, the inventory is in a hurry.”
“There is another reason for the fact that there is no minimum for household inverters, but only lower profits, so the profit is very thin, so the cost sensitivity will be higher.” Wang Qiang added. Under the profit depression, it is not ruled out that inverter companies give priority to guaranteeing the raw materials required for the products of industrial and commercial and centralized power stations, which will lead to “out of stock” in the household market.
According to the price dynamics of other mainstream inverter companies consulted by Polaris Solar Photovoltaic Network, more statements are “under evaluation, the price has not been adjusted yet, and will follow the market later”, of course, some companies said that “price increases are certain according to current trends, and different regions Customers are treated differently, either to cover the price increase of raw materials, or to promote product upgrades.”
“After learning about the price increase, we urgently prepared 40 units in stock.” A person in charge of a household dealer in Shandong told Polaris.
But as far as the current increase of 10-15% is concerned, it will not affect terminal demand. “Currently, the cost of household system is about 2.5-3.5 yuan per watt, inverter is about 0.35, an increase of 15%, or about 0.4, which has minimal impact on the overall cost.” The above-mentioned distributor also said that the price increase of equipment is compressing The installer’s profit and its commitment to end users remain unchanged. “The threshold for household use is too low and competition is fierce.”
As far as large-scale ground power stations are concerned, the above-mentioned first-line inverter companies said: “The final price of the inverter is reflected in the bid price. The increase has a very limited impact on the system cost, and there is no need to pay too much attention to this matter.”