German PV equipment vendors see strong recovery in demand in 2015 and remain optimistic for 2016

On a quarterly basis the growth is even more impressive: year-on-year (YoY) the increase in equipment sales in the last quarter of 2015 compared to 4Q 2014 amounted to more than 80%. 4Q15 also marked the third quarter in a row with sequential sales increases for the German PV equipment industry.

Key drivers for the increased demand in production tools were technology upgrades to existing production lines and indeed also capacity expansions, which had been very limited over the past three years. For almost a year now capacity utilization of the wafer, cell and module manufacturers worldwide has been running at levels of 75% to 85%, as global PV installations grew by around 30% in 2015. For 2016 another growth in global demand by 15% to 20% is anticipated, triggering investments in new capacities to satisfy the ever increasing demand.

Compared to the record years 2010 and 2011 last year’s sales from German PV equipment manufacturers amounted roughly to a third of the volume four years ago. So while the market situation is still not easy for the companies they enter 2016 with a much more optimistic outlook than last year.

More than 80% of the member companies state that their order situation has improved over the past twelve months. In aggregate order intake for the German PV equipment manufacturers increased by roughly 75% in 2015 compared to 2014.

The competition with equipment vendors from Asia remains intense, leading to a lively discussion among the more than 40 participants at yesterdays event about how the German PV equipment industry could further improve, or at least defend, their competitive situation. According to their own statistics VDMA believes that PV equipment manufacturers from Germany still have a global market share in excess of 50%. Some members remarked that in terms of revenues they agreed that Germany’s PV equipment industry still holds a global market share above 50% in terms of production equipment measured in MWp this was no longer the case.

Read more about the current strategies of the leading German PV equipment vendors in the upcoming May edition of pv magazine.