Quarterly PV manufacturing equipment spending by crystalline silicon (c-Si) ingot-to-module and thin-film panel producers grew for the sixth consecutive quarter during the fourth quarter of 2010 to $2.9 billion as double-digit quarter-over-quarter manufacturing capacity growth continued to grip the PV industry.
Rising equipment demand from Asian cell manufacturers will be the primary driver of global industry revenues this year, according to a new report from Solarbuzz. Revenues are forecast to grow from $10.7 billion in 2010 to $11.7 billion this year.
Driven by vertical integration aspirations of tier-one Chinese c-Si producers and strong investment into existing and emerging thin-film technologies, a further 1.25 GW of quarterly manufacturing capacity came online during the fourth quarter of 2010, bringing annualized c-Si cell and thin-film panel capacity added during 2010 to 11.5 GW, the report says.
‘Equipment suppliers, aligned with tier-one 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,’ notes 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 $500 million, while emerging process tool suppliers such as Amtech Systems, DEK-Solar, Despatch Industries and Jusung Engineering are projected to post year-over-year PV-specific revenue growth rates between 220 percent and 360 percent,’ he continues.
With strong capacity expansions in excess of 60% year-over-year also announced for 2011, bookings for preferred equipment suppliers are driving tool backlogs to levels that have not been seen since 2008, when high-value turn-key thin-film business was a key contributor.
At the end of the fourth quarter of 2010, there were 20 equipment suppliers with order backlogs in excess of $100 million, with the majority of these orders scheduled for shipment during the first half of this year, according to the report.
The total PV equipment backlog saw 26% year-over-year growth versus the third quarter of 2009, reflected in the PV Book-to-Bill ratio, which averaged well above parity (1.24) for 2010 and peaked at an eight-quarter high of 1.7 during the second quarter of 2010.
For more findings from the report, click here.