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Feb 12, 2011 - Chris Whitmore - pv-tech.org

The latest Solarbuzz ‘PV Equipment Quarterly Report’ highlights that the fourth quarter of 2010 saw a further 1.25GW of quarterly solar manufacturing capacity come online. According to the market research firm, annualized c-Si cell and thin-film module capacity increased by a further 11.5GW, in 2010. Equipment spending grew for the sixth consecutive quarter to reach US$2.9 billion in the fourth quarter. At the end of the year, 20 equipment suppliers to have order backlogs in excess of US$100 million, with the majority of these orders scheduled for shipment during the first half of 2011.

“Equipment suppliers aligned with tier 1 customer expansions and their process technology trends are posting record quarterly revenues, while at the same time accumulating tool backlogs in excess of trailing twelve month (ttm) revenues,” noted Finlay Colville, Senior Analyst at Solarbuzz. “Leading equipment suppliers Applied Materials, Centrotherm, GT Solar and Meyer Burger are now trending with ttm PV revenues exceeding US$500 million, while emerging process tool suppliers such as Amtech Systems, DEK-Solar, Despatch Industries and Jusung Engineering are projected to post Y/Y PV-specific revenue growth rates between 220% and 360%.”

Colville also noted that the rising equipment demand from Asian cell manufacturers would be the key driver for equipment companies revenue during 2011, which are forecasted to grow from US$10.7 billion in 2010 to US$11.7 billion this year.

Order backlog

Solarbuzz noted that it expects 60% Y-on-Y growth in capacity expansions in 2011, which has led to tool backlogs at levels that have not been seen since 2008. According to the Solarbuzz, the total PV equipment backlog saw 26% Y-on-Y growth verses Q4’09, with a PV Book-to-Bill ratio averaging well above parity (1.24) for 2010 and peaked at an eight-quarter-high of 1.7 during Q2’10.

Other important trends seen in 2010 and set to continue in 2011, is the geographic shift in PV manufacturing to China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. The market research firm noted that 85% of c-Si cell revenues and 60% of thin-film equipment revenues came from across these regions last year.

Tier 1 c-Si manufacturers were said to remain committed to capacity expansion by placing high-volume orders on preferred process tool suppliers. CIGS and CdTe expansions provided strong bookings for a variety of thin-film deposition tool suppliers, often based on customized product offerings.

Asian based turn-key equipment suppliers continued to dominate a-Si/uc-Si bookings and shipments, analogous to Applied Materials, Oerlikon and ULVAC’s market entry several years ago.

Solarbuzz noted that revenues available for tool suppliers from European PV manufacturers continue to decline, citing the fact that both Centrotherm and Roth & Rau generated only 12% of PV revenues from European customers in 2010, compared to 33% back in 2008.

Market leaders

Preliminary data suggests that Applied Materials achieved PV-specific revenue of between US$1.3- US$1.5 billion in 2010. Solarbuzz estimates that this was more than US$500 million greater than any other PV equipment supplier for 2010.

However, according to the Solarbuzz analyst, Centrotherm has emerged as the equipment supplier to watch during 2011. Colville projected that Centrotherm’s revenues in 2010 increased each quarter with over 75% coming from single process c-Si tools, heavily weighted towards end-users across Asia.

“Understanding that the total addressable market for PV equipment suppliers is comprised of different served market segments remains an essential part of equipment suppliers’ growth strategies,” added Colville.


Updated: 2003/07/28