17 January 2013 02:44 [Source: ICIS news]
By Felicia Loo
SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s spot polysilicon prices are expected to rise further, triggered by an increase in stockpiling activity in China ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays in February, market sources said on Thursday.
Spot polysilicon prices rose by $1/kg (€0.75/kg) in the week ended 16 January to $14-16/kg FOB (free on board) NE (northeast) Asia.
Domestic Chinese polysilicon prices increased by yuan (CNY) 10,000/tonne ($1,607/tonne) in the week ended 16 January to CNY120,000-130,000/tonne DEL (delivered) China, ICIS data showed.
“Many downstream solar companies are running their plants again, so the demand for polysilicon is increasing,” said a market participant, referring to solar wafer, cell and module makers.
Solar-grade polysilicon – which is usually traded in chunks, granules and rods – is the raw material for making solar wafers, ingots, cells and modules.
The downstream solar prices of wafers, cells and modules are stable, prompting many photovoltaic makers to resume operations in China, market participants said.
But, on the other hand, the upstream polysilicon producers remain cautious and resist resuming production and this has led to a drawdown in polysilicon inventories amid rising demand for the polysilicon feedstock, they added.
Many medium- to small-sized polysilicon producers in China ceased production since October 2011 in response to the global solar slump, market participants said.
However, market players are concerned that Chinese polysilicon imports may be limited in time to come and this has spurred some market players to buy the current low-priced polysilicon.
China’s Ministry of Commerce may impose a penalty tariff on polysilicon imports from the US and South Korea from February, according to China Silicon Industry Association. The penalty tariff is expected to be at 30-50% or above, which will impact spot polysilicon prices in the market, it added.
Domestic polysilicon prices will be pushed higher in the future if a tariff is levied because more downstream producers will rely heavily on domestic polysilicon instead of imports with high tariffs, according to an industry source.
Meanwhile, China imported 5,772 tonnes of polysilicon in November 2012, up by 1% from October, according to the country's customs data.
On polysilicon exports, China shipped out 410 tonnes in November, a 325% increase from October 2012, the data showed.
The Chinese government is also supporting the domestic ailing solar industry in the wake of anti-dumping duties (ADDs) imposed by the US on imports of Chinese-manufactured solar cell products, market participants said.
Within China, investments in the solar sector are expanding, they added.
China’s Trina Solar has gained approval from authorities in north western Gansu province to build a 50 megawatt (MW) grid-connected solar power plant in semi-desert Wuwei municipality, where it is well-suited for solar energy production because of favourable irradiance and the ability to sell electricity to other regions in addition to supplying its local needs.
US’s Department of Commerce, on 10 October this year, finalised ADDs on imports of Chinese solar cell products ranging from 18.32-249.96%.
The US also set final countervailing duties (CVDs) at a range of 14.78-15.97% for Chinese producers and exporters of the products.
($1 = €0.75 / $1 = CNY6.22)
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