It is a strange time in the pv manufacturing industry. Despite a collapse in the price of solar cells and modules beginning in the second half of 2016, pv magazine has been reporting a rush of equipment orders over the last month, which follows on strong bookings reported by German engineering federation VDMA for the third quarter of 2016.
Today this trend continued, with Sweden’s Midsummer reporting an order for its compact DUO thin film cell manufacturing system, which will be used by an un-named Asian customer to make flexible CIGS PV. The order is in the single-digit million Euro range, and Midsummer plans to deliver the equipment in August 2017.
And while there has been an overall boom in equipment orders, CIGS equipment seems to be particularly popular. CIGS has struggled as a technology over the last few years due to the price pressures of low-cost crystalline silicon, with most Western CIGS makers going out of business and the leading companies being snatched up by China’s Hanergy.
However, Midsummer’s order for the DUO system follows on a collaboration between Germany’s Manz, Shanghai Electric and Shenhua, under which Manz will supply €263 million in CIGS equipment to the two Chinese companies while turning over control of its R&D operation.
Midsummer did not say where in Asia its equipment was going, but it is increasingly appearing that China may be the new hope for CIGS technology.