Solar Cell Manufacturing Capacity Expected To Reach 17 GW This Year


Solar cell manufacturing capacity is predicted to grow 56% in 2009 to 17 GW, according to a new report from DisplaySearch. Ramped capacity, which was only 2.3 GW in 2005, is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 49% to more than 42 GW in 2013.

DisplaySearch, part of the NPD Group, notes that it recently expanded its business to include solar market research by introducing the first edition of the Quarterly PV Cell Capacity Database & Trends Report.

‘Despite PV module demand shrinking 17% in 2009, so much cell manufacturing equipment was ordered and installed over the past year that capacity is still expected to grow 56% this year,’ says Charles Annis, vice president of manufacturing research at DisplaySearch and author of the report.

‘With demand and capacity moving in different directions, the PV industry is currently experiencing an enormous oversupply that is causing rapid price erosion and potentially setting the stage for the failure of multiple cell manufacturers, particularly companies pursuing a-Si thin-film solar cells,’ he adds. ‘The PV industry will begin working through this excess capacity as demand recovers next year and takes off in 2011 and beyond.’

Between January 2008 and July 2009, approximately 11.4 GW of new solar cell capacity was installed in fabs around the world. According to the report, these previous investment commitments are the reason that capacity is continuing to grow 56% in 2009 despite falling demand.

For a-Si factories, in 2009, the four largest turnkey equipment vendors are AMAT, Oerlikon ULVAC and EPV, representing 946 MW of ramped capacity, or more than 50% of a-Si capacity online this year.

In terms of capacity available for production in 2009, First Solar is the largest solar cell manufacturer, with more than 1 GW of capacity. Q-Cells and Suntech are not far behind and are essentially tied for second place, the report adds.

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SOURCE: DisplaySearch

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