© ABB (illustration purpose only) Analysis | August 02, 2017
Substantial investments in Solar equipment
The Asian solar industry invested extremely in production equipment of crystalline cells as well as of thin film technology in the first quarter 2017. The manufacturers of components, machines and equipment for the photovoltaic industry in Germany also benefited from this.
In the first quarter 2017 incoming orders rose threefold compared to the amount of order intakes of the last quarter 2016 and exceed new orders in the first quarter 2016 by 151 percent. Sales were 7 percent lower than in the previous year and 40 percent lower than the last quarter 2016. This corresponds to the pattern of previous years. The order books of the solar equipment manufacturers are well filled, in the first quarter a ratio of orders to delivered systems ("book-to-bill") of very high 4,4 was reached. "The high investment activity of the solar cell manufacturers in the expansion of existing and new production capacities continues. The production is busy, but low prices have a negative impact on sales. New orders came increasingly from PERC and Black Silicon equipment of the crystalline Silicon as well as from the thin film technology sector. The full order books are a clear sign that there is a global unbraked confidence in technology and machines made in Germany. This secures jobs in the solar industry in Germany ", Dr. Peter Fath, Managing Director of RCT Solutions GmbH and Chairman of VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment explained. Asia is the largest business The export ratio of German photovoltaic equipment suppliers reached the record level of 95 percent in the first three months of 2017. The bread and butter business remains in East Asia, the share of total turnover originating from there amounted 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Asia’s sales were as follows: the largest share was made with China (68 percent), followed by the rest of Asia (9 percent), which includes Malaysia and Vietnam. Taiwan recorded 6 percent, Korea, Japan and India each 1 percent. Europe remained top performer with a sales share of 6 percent, while Germany accounted 5 percent of sales. In the first quarter of 2017 the United States achieved only 3 percent of sales. The strongest sales segment in the first quarter 2017 for German PV manufacturers was again the production equipment for cells (39 percent), followed by machinery for polysilicon, Ingot and wafer production (22 percent), and equipment for the crystalline backend - module production – amounted to 21 percent. Production solutions for thin-film PV amounted to 18 percent of turnover in the first quarter of 2017 which is due to currently larger activities in CIGS (Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenide) sector. Order intake extremely high in the first quarter Order intake increased extremely by 328 percent in the first quarter 2017 compared to the previous quarter. The regional allocation again had an Asian focus with 93 percent of all orders, followed by Europe with 3 percent and United States and Germany with 2 percent each. “The extreme high order income in the last quarter is primarily attributed to Asian companies pursue a replication and upscaling of the existing thin film technology into mass production. For the crystalline applications, we see a further shift into the new markets outside China, as well as in efficiency-enhancing technologies (PERC, PERT, etc.) and bifacial technology, which uses both side active cells and modules”, emphasized Dr. Jutta Trube, Director of VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment. The order book of the photovoltaic manufacturers reached 6.6 months of production in the first quarter of this year, thus is a bit higher the timeframe of the entire machinery industry (5.9 months in April 2017).