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Declining incentives across Europe to reset PV cell capacity expansion plans during 2H’11

Market news |
By eeNews Europe


The report says that following a year when global photovoltaic (PV) market demand grew 139%, PV cell manufacturers have embarked upon aggressive expansion plans in support of ambitious shipment guidance for 2011.

While Y/Y growth for c-Si equipment spending (including ingot, wafer, cell and module stages) in 2011 would amount to 31%, thin-film spending would grow by an incredible 71%. Underpinning this thin-film growth is a resurgence of investments in a-Si and CIGS technologies, which account for 78% of planned thin-film capacity expansions.

Tier 1 expansions remain dominated by aggressive schedules announced by publicly-listed Chinese c-Si producers, followed by cell producers in Taiwan and thin-film leader First Solar. Examples of revised year-end nameplate capacity targets include JA Solar to 3 GW, Trina Solar to 1.9 GW, Neo Solar Power to 1.8 GW, and Jinko Solar to 1.5 GW. In the past 12 months, manufacturers in China and Taiwan accounted for 82% of the $3.6 billion revenues allocated to new c-Si cell equipment worldwide.

Adding to the c-Si expansion activity, thin-film manufacturing capacity is scheduled to grow by 70% between Q1’11 and Q1’12, as the second thin-film investment cycle draws to a conclusion. Within this period, an incredible 65 thin-film expansion phases are projected to be implemented, with a combined nameplate capacity of 4.8 GW.

Finlay Colville , Senior Analyst at Solarbuzz, commented:  “Fab investments during 2011 are providing opportunities for the PV equipment supply-chain, reflected in tool backlogs at the $1 billion level reported during Q1’11 by equipment leaders Applied Materials, Centrotherm, GT Solar and Meyer Burger. While suppliers of choice to tier-1 manufacturers have been forced to increase monthly tool shipments, tier-2 c-Si and thin-film investments are offering significant revenue upside for emerging equipment suppliers.”

Capacity expansions are consistent with leading cell manufacturers guiding 2011 shipment growth rates of 55%. However, market demand is forecast to increase by only 12% this year, as incentive tariff cuts are implemented across major European markets. Solarbuzz predicts that The imbalance will have a profound impact on the equipment supply-chain, starting with a reset of capacity growth plans during 2H’11. With tool lead times typically three to six 6 months, the full impact of these changes will be felt hardest during 2012.


Figure 1: PV Equipment Spending by Technology Segment (Q1’11 – Q1’12)

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