Large orders from Asian solar manufacturers boost Centrotherm

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From pv magazine Germany.

PV production line equipment supplier Centrotherm International AG generated orders worth €155 million in the first half of the year – four times more than the level posted for the same period of last year, according to the German manufacturer.

That bumper order book, reported in Centrotherm’s latest financial update, included big contracts worth more than €100 million each, typically representing high efficiency PV cell production line equipment.

The boom in business means Centrotherm had a €196 million backlog in orders at the end of June, said the company.

The recent nature of the order intake was reflected in the fact the Blaubeuren-based company had turnover of just €37 million during the first half, and a book-to-bill ratio – of new orders versus completed sales – of 4:2.

Falling earnings

Centrotherm had sales of €65 million in the first half of last year and the new order volume is unlikely to be recognized as sales until next year, with this year’s sales target set at a modest €90-150 million. With EBIT losses of €1.5 million in the first half of last year widening to €10.2 million this time around, turning the current orders boom into cash cannot happen quickly enough.

However, the reassurance of a full order book has prompted the board to continue to invest in R&D, according to chief executive Jan von Schuckmann.

“The new Centrotherm production solutions are being very well received by our – mostly Asian – clients,” said the CEO, remarking on the latest figures. “This is clearly reflected by the high order intake. Committing expenditure of around €7 million, we have vigorously invested in the development of new system generations and processes. We are optimistic that these investments and the sales successes recently achieved will have positive effects on our corporate development.”

European PV equipment suppliers are experiencing contrasting fortunes, as Chinese manufacturers supply a steady stream of orders but at ever shrinking profit margins. Asian customers are able to bear down on the equipment companies in the knowledge those focusing on European solar manufacturers are still awaiting a hoped-for renaissance in the production of more costly, more sustainably manufactured high-end products.