Swiss solar equipment maker Meyer Burger’s decision last year to move sales and service functions to eastern Asia again appears to have paid dividends, with the company announcing another significant order from the region.
The Thun-based company announced yesterday it has secured a CHF15 million ($15 million) order for its MAiA 6.1 PERC cell production equipment from “a leading PV module manufacturer” based in Asia.
The European business recently weighed in to the patent infringement legal cases launched by Korean manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells against Chinese rivals Jinkosolar, Longi Solar and Norwegian manufacturer REC in Germany, Australia and the U.S. by backing up client Longi’s claim that the technology used by Longi and Meyer Burger differs from that at the heart of the dispute.
Interestingly, yesterday’s new customer announcement repeated the claim, in relation to the manufacturing equipment Meyer Burger now has on order from its latest client.
Different to Hanwha tech
The Swiss company’s chief technology officer, Gunter Erfurt, said: “Meyer Burger’s proprietary passivation technology for PERC solar cells is based on our own IP, which is patented in the EU as well as in China and Korea. The patents describe and claim the deposition method, the tool configuration, the process sequence as well as the resulting passivation structure on the solar cell. Thus, PERC solar cells processed on our leading MAiA® platform apply a significantly different passivation structure compared to the structure [for example] applied using atomic layer deposition (ALD) and are not in the scope of the recently filed patent infringement claim by a leading PV company against other solar manufacturers.”
The equipment supplier will be keen not to see sales affected by the dispute and in the company statement announcing the contract win, Meyer Burger CEO Hans Brändle predicted the order will be the first of many. The increasing desire for high efficiency cells in order to drive down the price-per-Watt of solar power will be good news for PERC equipment orders and “signals the beginning of ambitious new PERC expansion plans by the solar industry”, said Brändle.
Since announcing plans in October to lay off almost 100 staff in Switzerland to focus sales efforts in Asia, Meyer Burger has announced significant contract wins relating to a Chinese order for its WIS 08 wafer inspection system and a 600 MW supply deal for heterojunction and smart wire production tools from a “well established cell and module maker” – likely to be east Asian.