For the third straight quarter the sales of new manufacturing equipment for solar photovoltaic has slipped, showing there’s less new PV manufacturing coming online, according to a new report from SEMI, a semiconductor industry trade group. While it doesn’t necessarily mean manufacturers are cutting back their production, it does show that the growth of the manufacturing industry has slowed.
“The SEMI Worldwide Photovoltaic Equipment Market Statistics Report focuses in on PV manufacturing equipment—equipment used in the production of poly/ingot/wafer, c-Si cell/module, and Thin Film.” said SEMI spokesperson Deborah Geiger. “The report and data are not directly related to PV manufacturing level, but more related to PV manufacturers capex [i.e., capital expenditure] spending. The data shows PV equipment sales/revenues (billings) and orders (booking).”
The report, which surveyed equipment manufacturers found that the amount of new equipment being sold and paid for to manufacture PV has been falling since the second quarter of 2011. From the last quarter of 2010, new sales and revenue from PV manufacturing equipment fell to $695 million, down 20 percent from the previous quarter. On a year-over-year basis, the drop was more significant, falling by 60 percent.
The report also looked at how much business was booked over the quarter. “We ask companies to report ‘net booking,"’which is new orders minus all cancellations. We do not have access to individual company data, we only report on aggregate level. But cancellations are certainly possible given today's market conditions,” Geiger said.
There was one large order in the first quarter, however. “In their first quarter report, Centrotherm stated that a large order was awarded by Sonelgaz to construct a fully integrated solar module factory in Algeria,” Geiger said. The order actually boosted the amount of bookings, according to Geiger. “The reported total bookings reversed a four-quarter declining trend, up 29 percent for the quarter to $591 million,” she said. Without the order, the bookings of new equipment would have continued to slide, in this case by 36 percent.