June 20 (Renewables Now) - German solar photovoltaics (PV) production equipment makers saw their first-quarter (Q1) 2018 sales drop by 48% quarter-on-quarter and also reported a 51% sequential fall in order intake.
Still, sales were up by 31% year-on-year, according to a summary by the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) out on Tuesday.
Peter Fath, chairman of VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment, said investments in upgrades and new manufacturing capacity are slowing down and a reduction in equipment prices is also observed. Still, the order books of solar machinery makers remain full and in Q1 the ratio of orders to delivered systems, or book-to-bill, was 0.4.
The export ratio of German solar manufacturing equipment suppliers hits a new record at 93% in Q1 2018.
The top sales segment in the period under review for German technology suppliers was thin-film PV equipment with a share of 61%, followed by cell production machinery at 32%. New orders, meanwhile, show growing interest in PERC and Black Silicon equipment when it comes to crystalline silicon products, and, of course, thin films, Fath added.
The table shows the share of different geographies in Q1 sales and order intake for German suppliers.
|Coutry/Region||Share of sales||Share of orders|
|- of which China||40%||half of Asian total|
|- of which Taiwan||7%||N/A|
|Rest of Europe||4%||5%|
VDMA Photovoltaic Production Equipment's managing director Jutta Trube pointed out that orders from Asia are now more widely distributed across a number of countries on the continent.
From the start of June China drastically cut support for new solar projects, which is expected to lead to severe oversupply. According to GTM Research senior solar analyst Jade Jones, a drop in prices of 32% to 36% can be expected. He says that suppliers may be forced to slow down manufacturing capacity investments.