PV equipment spending set to halve in 2012

Much of the equipment demand in 2011, finds Solarbuzz, was from new entrants having kitted out fabs and Tier 2 or 3 manufacturers adding to their capacity. As this additional market capacity has resulted in an oversupply of the market, demand for equipment is likely to evaporate in 2012.

Equipment manufacturer revenues were, therefore, inflated by $6 billion, thus representing an equipment over-investment in the industry.

Solarbuzz predicts that equipment manufacturers must "redefine their product roadmaps to align with the projected upturn in spending after 2012." Although Solarbuzz notes that the spending downturn will continue into 2013.

Strong year-on-year growth, 21 percent in the third quarter (Q3) 2011 has been observed, however double-digit quarter-on-quarter revenue declines in Q4 2011 and Q1 2012 will likely impact on this.

The Solarbuzz report also predicts that equipment suppliers from the crystalline-silicon wafer, cell and module expansions of 2011 will be the hardest hit in 2012, with new plans being shelved. The worst hit will see their year-on-year revenues fall from between 30 and 79 percent.

Equipment suppliers with long back catalogues will be affected the least, especially those supplying expansion in the Asia Pacific region.

A focus on Tier 1 manufacturers, particularly in Asia, should be the adjusted strategy of photovoltaic equipment suppliers, suggests Solarbuzz, with equipment upgrade and replacement revenues being only partial recompense for falling revenues. The failure of competitive manufacturers in Europe and North America will not turn this gloomy trend around in 2012.