Has PVinsights’ polysilicon spot price index overcome its bias?

Weekly polysilicon spot price indices of PVinsights and EnergyTrend in 2019 and 2020
PVinsights’ polysilicon price index seems to lose its multi-grade bias – Sources: PVinsights, EnergyTrend; Chart: Bernreuter Research

The weekly polysilicon spot price average provided by Taiwanese market researcher PVinsights has been significantly lower than other polysilicon price indices since 2019, but this seems to change now.

Between 2015 and 2018, PVinsights’ spot price for ‘PV grade’ polysilicon was 2% to 7% lower than the global polysilicon price index of competitor EnergyTrend on an annual average. However, this spread widened significantly from 7% in the first quarter of 2019 to 16% in the fourth quarter and grew further to 19% in the first quarter of 2020.

After a series of flash explosions at Xinjiang GCL’s polysilicon plant took a capacity of 48,000 metric tons from the market in mid-July 2020, however, PVinsights’ average spot price increased rapidly. It even left EnergyTrend’s global spot price average behind for several weeks before the latter overtook PVinsights’ index again in mid-August.

A similar development became apparent in December: Again, PVinsights’ price index rose more quickly than EnergyTrend’s, narrowing the spread between the two from 8% in October and November to 5% in December and only 1% at the turn of the year.

It is a typical feature of PVinsights’ price index that it responds to a new price trend early. But another change ocurred in 2020: While PVinsights’ spot price average was closer to the lowest price for multi-grade than to the price maximum for mono-grade polysilicon far into the first half of 2020, this relation reversed in the second half of the year, as the chart above shows.

Thus, PVinsights’ index finally seems to have overcome its bias toward low-price multi-grade polysilicon and to reflect the fact that mono grade is dominating the market with a share exceeding 90% now.

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