SANTA CLARA, USA: VLSI Research has released the annual ranking of PV manufacturing equipment suppliers for 2009. Applied Materials was the largest supplier of PV manufacturing equipment for the second year in a row with revenues from this sector exceeding $1 billion.
Despite the market turmoil over the period, 4 of the Top 10 suppliers retained their positions and 9 of the companies in last year’s list make a repeat appearance, revealing that the top players have mostly managed to retain market share. The market for PV manufacturing equipment which includes polysilicon, ingot, wafering, cell and module manufacturing equipment declined by 12.2 percent in 2009 to a value of $7.7 billion.
VLSI Research’s analysis reveals that Applied Materials consolidated their position in 2009 with organic growth and revenue gain from their existing products. centrotherm photovoltaics AG gained the most positions and climbed from 5th place to claim the second spot, benefitting from their move into the polysilicon and ingot manufacturing equipment markets.
Ulvac Inc. gained a place and had the greatest growth of the top 10 due to their silicon thin film systems. Rounding out the top 10 are two more risers, ALD Vacuum Technologies, an ingot tool manufacturer, and NPC Incorporated which produces module manufacturing equipment.
Gebr. Schmid, GT Solar Inc. and Meyer Berger all outperformed the industry and retained their positions. Nevertheless, all three saw declining revenues over this time reflecting the overall market trend. In a reversal of fortune, Oerlikon Solar fell from second position in 2008 to fifth due to the weakness in the silicon thin film market.
OC Oerlikon chooses to report the sales of PV equipment from its Oerlikon Systems business, which manufactures crystalline cell manufacturing equipment, separately from Oerlikon Solar although the combined revenues of these two businesses would not have influenced their ranking this year.
The other company to lose position was Roth & Rau AG which also had the biggest decline in revenues of the top 10. Roth and Rau had an extremely high level of exposure to the underperforming crystalline cell equipment market for both turnkey and stand-alone systems.
Compared to other industries the fall in revenue during the downturn was not too severe but 2009 was a year of two halves: for the first eight months suppliers survived by working through their backlogs as new orders virtually evaporated, then for the remainder of the year orders surged close to record levels. The stress this caused resulted in some suppliers exiting the market and accelerated the trend for consolidation within the industry. Most notably, Meyer Burger and 3S Swiss Solar Systems merged while Roth and Rau acquired OTB, although both these events occurred too late to impact the 2009 rankings.
The outlook for 2010 is for new equipment orders to remain strong and sales to grow by 17.2 percent to a value of $9 billion. However, not all segments are expected to grow next year. In particular, demand for silicon thin film on glass equipment is likely to remain soft until the technology and competitive cost issues are solved.Source: VLSIresearch inc.; PV SOLAR