China solar panel prices hit record lows, operating rates estimated around 60%

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  • The Chinese Module Marker (CMM), which is the OPIS benchmark for mono PERC modules from China, and TOPCon module prices hit another historical low this week falling $0.008 per Watt peak (wp) and $0.002/wp to $0.130 and $0.140/wp respectively, according to OPIS data.
  • Weak market sentiment and lackluster export demand continue to weigh on the module segment.

Module prices have fallen for a fourth consecutive week with CMM seeing its largest percentage drop of 5.8% in over two months. Most buyers and sellers priced mono PERC modules in the $0.120-130/wp range and TOPCon modules in the $0.130-140/wp range. Successively lower prices continue to emerge, a module seller said. “Now, we all don’t know how to predict module prices,” he said.

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Module manufacturers have lowered their manufacturing output due to the oversupplied market, with one stakeholder estimating the segment’s overall operating rates are 50-60% lower than the previous 70-80%. A module seller said that his firm’s operating rate is now around 60%. “In the present stage, maintaining current operating rates is enough,” he said. Small factories “with inefficient production capacity” that can’t maintain rates will gradually exit the market, he said.

China’s export markets continue to look weak. Installation rates will slow as Europe celebrates the Christmas holidays in December, said one stakeholder. Low-priced cargoes continue to be offered in Europe, according to multiple people. People are frantically attempting to “clear their inventories,” said one module seller. Persisting with these low prices means “victory,” an employee at a tier-1 solar major said. “If you can’t carry on, you’ll go bankrupt,” he said.

Weakness was evident in other export markets too. Module imports in Brazil, the largest solar market in Latin America, could decrease at least 11.2% year-to-year, assuming total imports of up to 15.8 GW in 2023, according to Brazilian consultancy Greener. “Everyone is not doing well,” said a module manufacturer with clients in Brazil. According to multiple sources, prices in Southeast Asia below $0.130/wp for PERC are low but realistic.

Prices are expected to keep falling. One module maker is offering PERC modules at 0.99 yuan/wp this week, which is a signal that the market is on the threshold of the psychologically significant barrier of 1 yuan/wp.

The entire solar value chain will “go through a phase of inventory-clearing before the end of the year,” a module manufacturer said. Bottom prices across the value chain will come between December and China’s Spring Festival next year. After the 1 yuan/wp era arrives, “one may wonder when we will see [prices]below $0.10/wp,” a solar market veteran said.

OPIS, a Dow Jones company, provides energy prices, news, data, and analysis on gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, LPG/NGL, coal, metals, and chemicals, as well as renewable fuels and environmental commodities. It acquired pricing data assets from Singapore Solar Exchange in 2022 and now publishes the OPIS APAC Solar Weekly Report.

This article was originally published in pv magazine and is republished with permission.

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