SEMI: signs of an equipment rebound

Things appear to be looking up for PV equipment suppliers. In the first time three years, the worldwide book-to-bill ratio has broke above parity for the industry segment, in new figures from SEMI. Worldwide bookings for Q1 2014 totaled $296 million, 44% higher than the Q1 2013.

The bookings figure also registered growth on the previous quarter, growing by 18% on Q4 2013. The SEMI figures are collated from PV equipment suppliers worldwide and are collected by SEMI in partnership with the German Engineering Federation VDMA.

The positive result confirms reports from the recent Intersolar Europe trade show, where exhibiting European equipment suppliers spoke of strong bookings during the period surveyed by SEMI. German supplier teamtechnik told pv magazine that the majority of the bookings were from China.

"Q4 last year and Q1 2014 were very strong,” said teamtechnik’s Axel Riethmüller, the executive vice president of solar technology. “We saw increasing production capacity during this time. Now it’s normalized but we will see increasing demand at the end of the year."

At Intersolar Europe, teamtechnik presented its TT1600 power stringer tool, which is capable of soldering a cell every 2.25 seconds – the Freiburg-based company claims. teamtechnik has been manufacturing in Jintan, China, since 2010 and the firm says it can supply up to five stringers a week.

The SEMI results showed that Asian suppliers performed very strongly in Q1 2014. “Asian firms represented 70% of the total billings and over 80% of the total bookings,” the SEMI statement reads.

While bookings for PV equipment suppliers saw a major uptick, billings declined to $240 million in Q1 2014, a decrease of 42% from Q4 2013. However, this is only 6% down on the billing figure for Q1 2013.