If you ever needed a sign of an industry on the up, its the increase in orders and sales of production equipment. That is exactly the news coming from the VDMA in its report of German PV equipment producers for the second quarter of the year.
German PV equipment manufacturers are generally at the top of the curve when it comes to PV technology, so seeing their sales volumes increase so dramatically, and seeing that the vast majority of the orders have come from outside of Europe, is definitely encouraging news for the entire industry, which is clearly becoming more competitive.
The biggest increase in the figures can be seen when comparing the sales figures for Q2 2016 with the same period last year, as they increased an incredible 63%. Even from the first quarter of the year the sales figures were up 55%, which represents huge yearly and sequential growth. With the VDMA forecasts for Q3, three quarters of 2016 will make up 92% of the total sales figures for 2015.
These orders are for equipment right across the PV value chain, but by far the biggest driver is for cell production. In fact, 60% of the total sales in the quarter were for solar cells production equipment, with its closest rival polysilicon, ingot and wafer production equipment at just 21%.
The considerable investment activity by solar cell manufacturers in increasing existing and new production capacities continues: production is working to capacity, commented Managing Director of RCT Solutions and Chairman of VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment Peter Fath.
As well as large sales volume increases, German PV equipment manufacturers also enjoyed significant increases in orders. With this rise, orders have now been steadily increases for the last four quarters, yet further proof of a burgeoning industry.
The order situation for 2016 was very positive in the second quarter, said Director of VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment Jutta Trube. For the next few months, we see a continued positive development of order intake and sales. Enhancing technologies for crystalline applications is establishing itself further (PERC, PERT, etc.). Crystalline solar cell manufacturers choose increasingly also the Heterojunction technology, which promises the highest efficiencies. Many existing facilities will be equipped with more efficient technologies.
Outside of Europe the key
Acting as a microcosm of the global solar market, the region trends for sales and orders seem to be almost exactly replicating solar markets across the world, with Europe wilting away. Inevitably, if it is to fit with the current trends, Asia is the driver for both sales and orders. So dominant is the East Asian region that it made up 68% of the total revenues generated by German PV production equipment manufacturers and accounted for a whopping 89% of total orders.
Way behind in second place is the U.S., who accounted for 22% of sales and 4% of orders, while the entirety of Europe only made up 10% of sales (6% was in Germany) and a measly 4% of orders.