The latest report from VDMA paints a cheerful picture for PV manufacturing equipment suppliers in 2017, with the Asian solar industry investing heavily in production equipment, particularly for c-Si cell manufacturing and thin film technology. In Q1 2017, incoming orders increased by 328% over the previous quarter, and 151% over the same quarter in 2016.
Asian solar manufacturers led the drive in equipment investment, with German equipment suppliers collectively hitting a 95% export rate over the first three months of 2017, 93% of which was accounted for by orders from the Asian continent. Further breakdown of the Asian sales showed that 68% of orders came from China, 6% from Taiwan and 9% from the ‘rest of Asia’ which includes Malaysia and Vietnam.
Equipment for c-Si cell production was the strongest area for German PV manufacturers, covering 39% of total order volume, polysilicon/ingot/wafer machinery achieved 22%, and crystalline module equipment 21%. Notably, solutions for thin film PV increased to 18% of turnover, as several manufacturers ramp up activity in CIGS production.
“The high investment activity of the solar cell manufacturers in the expansion of existing and new production capacities continues,” says Peter Fath, Chairman of VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment. “New orders came increasingly from PERC and black silicon equipment, as well as from the thin film technology sector. Full order books are a clear sign that there is global confidence in technology and machines made in Germany.”
The order book for PV manufacturers hit 6.6 months of production in Q1, slightly higher than the broader machinery industry level of 5.9 months in April 2017.