California rooftop legislation lifts order book for Swedish equipment supplier

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CIGS production equipment specialist Midsummer received record orders last year, riding a wave of PV growth and favorable policy decisions in California. The Swedish company announced record orders worth $29 million.

Having generated revenue of $12 million in 2017, the company saw $18 million in just the first half of last year and says a full year financial review will be published by March 22.

The company said the figures mark the highest order intake in its history. At the end of last year, Midsummer received an order worth $7 million for its DUO system production equipment from U.S. partner Sunflare, which has released several new products for its home market. Though U.S.-based, Sunflare’s production operation is in China, which is where the equipment will be delivered.

Midsummer CEO Sven Lindström stressed the importance of the booming U.S. market as a factor in the record-busting performance. California has passed a law which means from January 1, 2020, all new low rise buildings (three or less stories) buildings must have PV. In California nearly 70,000 new homes are built each year, according to the Midsummer boss.

Raising the roof

“We are witnessing a true revolution in renewable energy, with the United States as the driver, and the potential is simply enormous, not just in the southwestern United States but throughout the world,” said the CEO. “Solar energy is very competitive, even without subsidies and also in cold countries. We believe that the future lies in BIPV – building-integrated solar panels – which can easily be integrated with, or attached to roofs, walls, vehicles, tents, over landfills etc – in urban environments and close to the end consumers. The only limit is production capacity. It would necessitate 435 of our DUO machines to manufacture solar panels to cover just 5% of California’s membrane roofs.”

The company also highlighted the value of residential solar, with an estimated payback time of around four years versus a likely lifetime of 25 years. Midsummer says its DUO system is the most widespread manufacturing tool for CIGS thin film.

The company has been named one of the fastest growing in Sweden and announced plans to expand its factory in August, with Lindström adding it had recruited 40 new employees in 2018, and expanded its factory on the outskirts of Stockholm to 1,200m².