Solar panel prices have been consistently rising for solar panel makers, leading to better gross margins and profits. But upstream material producers such as wafers and polysilicon have not seen their prices increase too much, leading to negative gross margins for most upstream companies. But with solar panel demand rising at a rapid pace and no increase in wafer and poly capacity being done these days, the prices of wafers and poly are also bound to rise. Energytrend and some other analysts have predicted that polysilicon may see a shortage in 2014, as demand exceeds supply. We may be seeing an indication of the oncoming tightness in wafer supply as prices have started rising slowing for solar wafers.
This is good news for large solar wafer shippers such as Renesola, REC, GCL Poly and others. These companies have not seen their stock prices increase too much, despite the massive upsurge in stock prices of solar panel suppliers such as Yingli, Trina, Canadian Solar and others. Gigastorage is predicting the prices may increase by another 10% in the coming year.
Prices for solar-grade polycrystalline silicon wafers have risen to US$0.94/wafer due to tight supply, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) has cited Taiwan-based maker Gigastorage as indicating. Gigastorage has received orders in excess of its production capacity, and indicated that prices will increase to US$0.95/wafer for shipments scheduled for December and are expected to keep rising by at least US$0.10/wafer each month, EDN indicated.
The tight supply of solar-grade wafers is because demand from Taiwan-based solar cell makers has been growing, and China-based wafer makers have decreased supply, the paper said.