Solarbuzz reports record levels of PV equipment spending

Quarterly manufacturing capacity added during Q3 2010 broke through the GW barrier for the first time, driving PV equipment spending to a new quarterly high, according to the Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly.

Manufacturing equipment spending posted record returns, with c-Si ingot-to-module and thin-film panel spending in excess of US$2.9B. Specifically, the dominant c-Si process tool types (etching, diffusion, passivation deposition and printing) each delivered quarterly served addressable market sizes over US$120M.

According to Solarbuzz, strong c-Si cell and thin-film panel expansion will continue throughout Q4, 2010 with a further 1.3 GW of quarterly ramped capacity projected to come online.

"Chinese and Taiwanese c-Si cell manufacturers are expanding at an unprecedented rate, stimulated by record levels of downstream demand through 2010," noted Finlay Colville, Senior Analyst at Solarbuzz. "This wave of capacity expansion is driving equipment spending levels to record quarterly highs, reflected by strong revenues reported by leading process tool suppliers to the PV industry during 1H'10."

"While c-Si cell capacity expansions in China and Taiwan continue to benefit qualified c-Si process tool suppliers based in Europe and North America, thin-film capital equipment spending remains increasingly fragmented by thin-film absorber type, substrate, supply-chain and manufacturing region," Colville added.

The Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly provides quantitative 5-year forecasts and analysis to address technology trends, capacity expansions, fab productivity and equipment demand, while highlighting the key challenges awaiting c-Si cell and thin-film equipment manufacturers. In 2011, c-Si cell equipment manufacturers must adapt product offerings to address new high-efficiency c-Si cell expansion, while thin-film tool suppliers have a window of opportunity as the second cycle of thin-film spending reaches its peak.

Findings in brief

  • Capacity expansion during Q3'10 was heavily biased toward c-Si cell technologies, providing further indication that c-Si cell manufacturing has evolved into a mature process with qualified equipment readily available;
  • New c-Si cell lines contributed an incredible 95% of the 1.12 GW of quarterly capacity brought online during Q3'10, compared to just 5% from all the thin-film panel types;
  • China and Taiwan cell manufacturers accounted for 80% of capacity added;
  • Equipment spending on c-Si cell lines during Q3'10 was US$852M, down 5% Quarter on Quarter, following the record high in Q2'10 of US$898M;
  • Tool spending was dominated by established c-Si cell makers such as China Sunergy, DelSolar, Gintech, JA Solar, Motech, Suntech and Solartech, but the industry saw sizeable contributions from new competitors in China including Hareon Solar, Jinko Solar, LDK Solar and ReneSola.


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