UK: According to IMS Research, the world market for PV manufacturing equipment – more than $5bn in 2008 – is projected to exceed $9bn in 2013. Asia, China in particular, is expected to be a key growth driver, accounting for over half of photovoltaic manufacturing equipment revenues through to 2013.
Suppliers of photovoltaic manufacturing equipment largely see the market moving to Asia in the near future. Minimizing labour cost is a key goal; and relocating equipment production to Asia is an obvious way to achieve this. Further, since the PV manufacturing equipment users are increasingly based in Asia, this will also help to reduce shipping costs.
One of the top priorities of PV equipment end users is maximizing the “cost/watt” of cells and modules. Equipment manufacturers taking advantage of lower Asia Pacific labour costs is one way to reduce overall equipment cost and increase equipment efficiency. Increasing factory automation is another!
Increasing automation of photovoltaic production processes is at the forefront of reducing cost and breakage, whilst increasing efficiency and throughput.
The automation component market for PV manufacturing equipment was estimated to be worth just over $450m in 2008; it is projected to grow to over $1.2bn in 2013.
With the traditional industrial markets, such as automotive and machine tool production, currently bottoming out as the world recession continues to bite, the market for photovoltaic manufacturing equipment can be seen as a ray of light!