PV Wafer and Cell Prices Continue to rise, as Chinese suppliers continue hikes

Highlights :

  • The price hikes will impact domestic prices in India sooner than later, further complicating the situation for large developers.
  • Relief from dependence on China in the form of domestic manufacturing of wafers and polysilicon is still at least 3 years away.
PV Wafer and Cell Prices Continue to rise, as Chinese suppliers continue hikes

Leading integrated Chinese manufacturer LONGi solar has increased wafer prices for the third time since January, taking wafer prices to fresh highs. That means large cell manufacturers like Tongwei solar have followed with price hikes across cells, especially in the new, more widely used 182 mm and 210 mm sizes. These price hikes, come at an especially tough time for developers in India, who are still gauging the impact of the Ukrainian crisis on their plans even as the new BCD duty regime looms from April 1. Worsening, with the worse to come, would seem to be the prognosis for now.

The jump in wafer prices in 2022 follow the polysilicon hikes of 2021 which reversed years of downward prices for modules. Wafer prices have increased by over 10% in 2022 and have taken prices back to the levels seen in December 2021, after which a softening was expected widely. Even solar glass, which saw a steep jump in 2021, has moderated a little in 2022 so far. A situation that could change quickly.

Tracked by industry tracker PVLink, the new prices from LONGi for its P type M10 165μm mono wafer (182/247mm) is  RMB6.50 (Rs 79), up from RMB6.20 and representing nearly a 5% increase on the previous price.

Polysilicon prices remain way higher than those seen in 2020, from RMB230/kg on January 10 to RMB242/kg on March 7.

Tongwei, which is a key cell supplier to multiple module makers in China and globally, has increased the prices of its mono PERC cells by upto 3%, blaming it on higher polysilicon prices.

India, which remains a primarily module making market, dependent on China for cell supplies, will bear the brunt of these increases at a time when solar capacity creation is finally moving towards levels needed to meet national targets  as well as sustain domestic manufacturers.

These price hikes, bound to be passed on by domestic manufacturers to buyers, will complicate an already complex situation for the government, with upto 12 GW of utility scale projects in the pipeline apparently at risk due to the higher costs. While industry insiders have indicated a push for ‘grandfathering’ of some of these projects to ring fence them from the increased duty structure, one wonders if even that will be enough, even as interest rates could start moving up soon. Lower financing costs have been cited as a key reason many developers have been able to weather the higher costs so far.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International