Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Polysilicon spot prices skyrocket as China PV cell makers scramble for supply

Nuying Huang, Taipei; Rodney Chan, DIGITIMES [Tuesday 11 December 2007]

Polysilicon prices in the spot market have broken the US$400-per-kilogram mark as photovoltaic cell makers from China are scrambling to stock material, according to industry sources.

The sources claimed that only players from the PV industry in China have been willing to pay such high prices, while many of their Taiwan competitors think the high costs would definitely translate into inevitable losses.

Chin-Yao Tsai, general manager of Taiwan-based PV cell maker E-ton Solar Tech, confirmed that spot prices for polysilicon have skyrocketed to US$400 per kilogram. He speculated that buyers that are willing to pay such high prices must be coming under pressure from their increased capacity, anticipating further rises in solar grade prices, or trying to boost sales to facilitate their listing plans.

The industry-wide material shortage has been driving prices up. The sources disclosed that two Taiwan-based PV cell makers and one China-based competitor have recently bought scrap wafers for US$300 per kilogram.

Currently chief suppliers of polysilicon include Hemlock, Wacker, Renewable Energy Corporation (REC), MEMC Electronic Materials, Tokuyama, and Sumitomo. Only three of them may regularly sell polysilicon in the spot market, the sources said.

According to the industry sources, polysilicon spot prices reached US$280 per kilogram in the third quarter of 2006, and US$300 the next quarter. Prices remained at US$300-330 in the first half of 2007, with many makers thinking there would be little chance for the prices to go up further sharply.

But demand turned even stronger in the third quarter with more PV cell capacity being ramped up. Prices went up to US$340 per kilogram in the third quarter, to US$360-370 in early fourth quarter, and to US$400 in December.

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