Bernreuter is a German company specializing in market research on the polysilicon industry and solar industry.
“The global PV (photovoltaic) market will pick up speed; albeit at a slower pace than we originally assumed,” Johannes Bernreuter stated in a press release. “We now expect new PV installations to reach 35 to 37 gigawatts in 2013. China, Japan and the USA will replace Germany and Italy as the PV growth locomotives.”
In 2012 the polysilicon industry was plagued by overcapacities and a large inventory resulting from a production surplus in 2011. In addition, cash‐strapped wafer manufacturers dumped their polysilicon stocks on the spot market in order to retain liquidity. The wave of secondary sales from wafer companies and traders accelerated the slump of the spot price: the average rate for high‐purity polysilicon crashed by 47 percent to a record low of $15.35/kg in 2012 after it had already plummeted by 59 percent in 2011, according to the research company.
Since September 2011, the severe price decay has forced about 50 polysilicon manufacturers — most of them small and medium enterprises in China — to abandon or suspend production. In the third quarter of 2012, all top producers began to bow to the price pressure as well, and reduced the utilization rates of their plants. According to preliminary estimates of Bernreuter Research, the global polysilicon production volume consequently fell almost 8 percent from the output of 255,000 metric tons in 2011.
Although polysilicon inventories have not completely been digested yet, the spot price reached a bottom at the turn of the year. An installation rally in Japan ahead of a probable feed‐in tariff cut in April, healthy demand for PV systems in China and the introduction of punitive duties on polysilicon imports to China anticipated in February will drive the spot price upwards in the first quarter.
Even if China should impose duty tariffs as high as 50 percent, Bernreuter Research does not expect a strong revival of the Chinese polysilicon industry.
“The manufacturing costs of most producers are still too high and the quality of their product is too low,” Bernreuter stated in the press release. “We assume a lot of foreign polysilicon shipments for Chinese customers will be diverted to wafer manufacturers in Taiwan and then imported as wafers or solar cells to mainland China.”