(ADPnews) – Oct 11, 2010 – Global solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity added in the third quarter passed the 1 GW benchmark for the first time in history, fuelling a record quarterly high in equipment spending, US research outfit Solarbuzz said in its latest report.
The ‘Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly’ study, which was released today, shows that a record USD 2.98 billion (EUR 2.13bn) was plunked into crystalline silicon (c-Si) ingot-to-module and thin-film panel manufacturing equipment between July and September 2010.
Of the 1.12 GW of manufacturing capacity that came online during the period, c-Si sell technologies contributed a staggering 95%, a clear sign that the technology has come of age and qualified equipment is readily available. Thin-film panel types accounted for a paltry 5% of the total new capacity.
The rapid growth in c-Si was spearheaded by Chinese and Taiwanese cell manufacturers, which made up 80% of the new capacity. The two markets are expanding at an “unprecedented” pace on the back of record levels of downstream demand through 2010, according to 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,” Colville added.
In 2011, c-Si cell equipment makers 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, according to the analysts.
China and Taiwan also sliced a big chunk off the global c-Si cell equipment spending, accounting for a combined 72% over the trailing twelve month reporting period.
Total equipment spending on c-Si cell lines during the third quarter was USD 852 million, down 5% sequentially, following the record high of USD 898 million in the second quarter.
Thin-film equipment spending surged 53% on the quarter, as a new cycle of thin-film capital equipment investment gained traction.
Looking ahead, Solarbuzz anticipates that equipment spending will remain strong for c-Si cell tooling though the fourth quarter of 2010, but with flat-to-negative growth. Conversely, the thin-film spending cycle will maintain its upward growth trajectory, as existing tool backlogs are delivered across a range of thin-film companies worldwide ramping up fabs for the first time. However, PV equipment revenues are expected to decrease during 2011 as the threat of overcapacity thwarts the expansion plans of leading cell and panel suppliers.
(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.716)
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