For the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2011, the worldwide photovoltaic manufacturing equipment book-to-bill ratio, at 0.53, increased from last quarter's record low (0.35), according to industry association SEMI.
A more moderate decline in bookings than billings resulted in the increased ratio. However, the ratio is still lower than any quarter during 2010 or the first half of 2011. Worldwide billings experienced the sharpest quarterly decline since the first quarter of 2010 (Q1'10), down 44% quarter-over-quarter (Q/Q).
Worldwide bookings, which represent net new orders for PV manufacturing equipment, declined for the fourth consecutive quarter, down 14% Q/Q, after declining 70% in the previous quarter. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, Q4'11 bookings were down 81% from the peak reached in 4Q'10.
Total billings ($6.2 billion) for the full year of 2011 declined a few percentage points from the 2010 level of $6.4 billion, while 2011 total bookings (at $5.0 billion) declined 36% due to weakness in the second half of the year.
On a regional basis, equipment sales were dominated by Asia, the report adds. For the full year of 2011, Asia represented about 85% of total billings and bookings.
Capacity expansions taken up by PV manufacturers during the past two years have caused manufacturing capacity to significantly exceed demand. A combination of uncertain market demand and overcapacity has led to significant cuts to capital spending by PV manufacturers, SEMI explains.