Solar energy hardware prices plunge

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Fresh fall in the price of solar photovoltaic technology will increase its competitiveness against fossil-fuel based sources of electricity

London and New York – Pricing along the whole solar photovoltaic value chain declined sharply in the month of June, as European subsidy changes and policy uncertainties led to an inventory build-up for manufacturers. The June issue of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Solar Value Chain Index shows that the spot price of solar grade silicon fell by 28% month-on-month to $53.4/kg, relieving some pressure on downstream manufacturers of wafers and solar cells.

The price of 6" multicrystalline silicon wafers dropped by 23% in June to a record low of $2.39/piece. At the next point in the production chain, multicrystalline silicon cell prices were down 15% in June to $0.92 per Watt.

Module prices are also falling, though at a slower rate, with a 6.5% decline in June bringing crystalline silicon modules to $1.68/W. Chinese manufacturers are offering modules at significant discounts, with prices at $1.49/W, while modules manufactured outside of China are still priced higher, at $1.79/W. Prices for solar modules are now 58% lower than in the third quarter of 2008.

Overall the industry anticipates further price declines. Martin Simonek, solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: "Currently the markets are oversupplied with modules, as manufacturers seek to reduce their inventories in markets that are demanding cheap modules because of reductions in subsidies. Producers are preparing for a painful consolidation that could see several players exit the solar industry."

Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, commented: "These prices mean that in a sunny region, solar power can be generated for 18 US cents per kWh from large projects and 20 US cents per kWh from retail rooftops. Compare that to daytime electricity prices in some markets equivalent to 20-25 US cents, and you can see things are about to get really interesting."

The data for Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Solar Value Chain Index and Module Price Index is collected between the second and eighth day of each month through a questionnaire sent out to over 120 companies that buy, sell or trade polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules. The monthly results for both indices are sent to all participating companies on the tenth day of each month. The Solar Value Chain Index started in May 2009 and the Module Price Index was launched in November 2010. Participation is free of charge for manufacturers along the solar value chain, and in case of the Module Price Index also for traders and developers. For further information on the Index, please contact msimonek@bloomberg.net

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Publication Date: 17 Jun 2011

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