Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Solar Energy News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

IHS warns of Potential Solar Wafer Supply Shortage in 1H 2016
by Staff Writers
Englewood CO (SPX) Nov 02, 2015

The top 10 wafer producers in 2014 represented 60 percent of global production, and that share is forecast to remain flat in 2015. The average utilization rate of tier 1 wafer producers worldwide this year is forecast to exceed 90 percent; however, most of these producers will be sold out until the end of the year, and some will be sold out through the second quarter of 2016.

Due to rapid growth in solar installations in 2015, and forecasts for another record year for installations in 2016 IHS has flagged a potential solar wafer supply shortage throughout the entire supply chain. This concern comes despite recent announcements of large capacity expansions in diverse geographical locations from leading solar module suppliers.

Global installations are forecast to increase by 33 percent this year, to reach from 58.7 gigawatts (GW); growth will slow to 12 percent in 2016, with global solar PV demand reaching 65.5 GW. The increase in demand first affected module manufacturers, but it has progressively trickled upstream to cells and wafer producers; in [the third quarter (Q3) of this year], this increase in demand finally reached polysilicon producers.

Compared to the overall module industry, capacity expansions in the wafer industry are far more capital intensive, while margins for wafer manufacturers are currently much smaller than for most module manufacturers. This is one of the reasons wafer capacity expansion plans have been much more conservative than new module capacity announcements.

A second reason is that many large vertically integrated manufacturers have opted to differentiate their capacities for various products now, rather than having matched capacities for every node in their supply chain, as in previous years.

Many of these manufacturers have increased their in-house module capacity, while keeping a significantly lower wafer capacity. They are instead opting to purchase wafers from third-party companies, to reduce their capital expenditures and allow greater flexibility in their manufacturing capacity, in reaction to the fast-moving dynamics of the solar market.

The downstream market increasingly requires higher efficiency products. A large proportion of installations in 2015 require modules rated at 255 Watts and greater, which use high efficiency wafers. This requirement for high efficiency has further accelerated the consolidation of the wafer industry and the removal of most outdated capacity - coinciding with a period of high-demand from China and the United States, which has contributed to the potential short-term supply shortage.

The top 10 wafer producers in 2014 represented 60 percent of global production, and that share is forecast to remain flat in 2015. The average utilization rate of tier 1 wafer producers worldwide this year is forecast to exceed 90 percent; however, most of these producers will be sold out until the end of the year, and some will be sold out through the second quarter of 2016.

Total wafer production will reach 72.2 GW in 2016, which could be insufficient to meet demand. Assuming the top 10 producers maintain the same market share they held this year, a total production of 43 GW would be required from them in 2016; however, the total capacity of the top 10 producers will only reach 36 GW in 2015.

Just two companies plan to increase their capacity in 2016 - GCL by 1 GW and Longi by 500 MW; therefore, there would be still a 5.5 GW shortfall, even if the top 10 companies were to operate at full utilization. This gap could further increase with new policy developments, like the recent announcement from Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) to add another 5.3 GW of photovoltaic (PV) capacity quota in 2015, which is to be connected to the grid by the end of June 2016.

As a result of strong market demand and insufficient supply, wafer ASPs have slowly started to rise since June. This price increase is significant, considering the declining prices for polysilicon - and costs of wafer production - this year.

Key Facts
+ There is increasing likelihood of a potential shortage of tariff-free solar cells in the United States, and several cell and wafer producers are already warning of a potential wafer supply bottleneck in the coming months

+ Increasing demand for high efficiency solar modules from key downstream markets has led to intensive demand for high efficiency wafers

+ The current trade case's barriers to importing silicon to China could also aggravate the shortage for high efficiency wafers in 2016

+ The wafer industry's capacity expansions plans will not keep pace with the IHS forecast for demand growth in 2015 and 2016

+ Most tier-1 module and wafer suppliers have limited product availability, until the second quarter (Q2) of 2016, partly due to high demand from installations in China

+ In an environment of declining polysilicon prices, the average selling price (ASP) for multi-crystalline wafers has been gradually rising since June, which is improving wafer manufacturers' profit margins

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
All About Solar Energy at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Monolithic perovskite/silicon tandem solar cell achieves record efficiency
Berlin, Germany (SPX) Nov 02, 2015
Organic-inorganic perovskite materials are one of the biggest surprises in solar cell research. In just six years, the efficiency of perovskite solar cells has increased five-fold; moreover, perovskite solar cells can be manufactured from solution and be cost-effectively printed on large areas in the future. Because perovskite layers absorb light in the blue region of the spectrum very eff ... read more

DuPont Celebrates the Opening of the World's Largest Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

Making green fuels, no fossils required

Uncovering the secrets of ice that burns

Wood instead of petroleum: Producing chemical substances solely from renewable resources

Robot's influent speaking just to get attention from you

'Spring-mass' technology heralds the future of walking robots

Dive of the RoboBee

Can ballet bugs help us build better robots

E.ON finishes German wind farm

Adwen and IWES sign agreement for the testing of 8MW turbine

US has fallen behind in offshore wind power

Moventas rolls out breakthrough up-tower planetary repairs for GE fleet

US says VW also violated emission rules in larger engines

Toyota view on Volkswagen scandal: don't obsess over No. 1

Pollution scam pushes VW into first quarterly loss in 15 years

Tokyo Motor Show kicks off with a spotlight on self-driving cars

New design points a path to the 'ultimate' battery

Simple mathematical formula models lithium-ion battery aging

Capacitor breakthrough

Canadian researchers find geothermal heat pumps most feasible in Halifax

Areva says Chinese nuclear company could take stake under terms of draft deal

China to set up third-generation nuclear power company

Bulgaria replaces 370-tonne stator of nuclear power plant

X-energy Advanced Nuclear Concept is a Feasible Option at Existing Power Plant Sites

National contributions provide entry point for the low-carbon transformation

Climate pledges keep 'door open' to warming under 2C

UN chief says 'no plan B or planet B' in climate talks

To reach CO2, energy goals, combine technologies with stable policies

After 5,000 years, Britian's Fortingall Yew is turning female

Amazonian natives had little impact on land, new research finds

NASA/USGS Mission Helps Answer: What Is a Forest

Elephants boost tree losses in South Africa's largest savanna reserve

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement