Rise of Chinese equipment suppliers

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The industry analysts also revealed that Chinese photovoltaic equipment suppliers are expanding fast and capturing market share. Four suppliers were named in the report, Apollo, 48th Research Institute, Jinggong and Jingyuntong, and were said to have compound annual growth rates of over 200 percent, for the period 2008 to 2011.

Applied Materials retained top spot in the NPD Solarbuzz "PV Equipment Quarterly" report, capturing twelve percent of the global market. Part of this continued success, according to the report, stems from the company’s process tools for wafer and back-end cell production being implemented around the photovoltaic manufacturing world. Many European suppliers are also forecast to post record photovoltaic equipment revenues for the year. These include centrotherm and Meyer Burger, each with seven percent of the market, Schmid, RENA, Amtech-Tempress and DEK-Solar.

Other European suppliers were shown to have performed less strongly. A group of four companies, Roth and Rau, Manz, ALD-Vaccum and PVA-TePla were estimated to have seen their collective revenues halved in 2011, when compared with 2008 figures.

Reflecting on the results, NPD Solarbuzz’s Finlay Colville said that reactions to the strong results should be tempered by an appreciation of the wider market conditions.

"The euphoria of announcing record revenues for 2011 is countered by the realization that much of the tooling shipped last year was stimulated by highly ambitious capacity expansion plans that were not underpinned by market demand. Over-capacity reached chronic proportions across the c-Si value-chain during 2011, and only stronger than anticipated end-market demand in 2012 will mitigate a painful and severe equipment spending downturn."