Solar photovoltaic (PV) equipment suppliers should start seeing a new upturn phase beginning in 2015 according to new research published by NPD Solarbuzz in their PV Equipment Quarterly, possibly reaching $10 billion in revenues in 2017.
“During 2012 and 2013, solar PV equipment suppliers were confronted by the sharpest downturn ever to hit the sector,” according to Finlay Colville, vice president at NPD Solarbuzz. “The decline was caused by strong over-capacity that reshaped the entire PV industry in 2012, which resulted in manufacturers’ capital expenditure budgets being put on hold during 2013.”
The PV equipment sector suffered bitterly through the market-flooding many people blamed on China. Manufacturers of ingots, wafers, cells, modules, and think-film panels saw their sales down to an eight-year low of $1.73 billion in 2013. This contrasted sharply with the previous peak in 2011 of an industry-wide sales mark of $13 billion.
As a result of a slow 2013 which saw many manufacturers forced to restructure their business units and refocus their attentions, the next six months should see end-market solar PV catch up with 45 GW of capacity installed, marking what NPD Solarbuzz are calling “the official end of the two-year downturn in capital expenditure.”
With increasing scale of deployment and PV efficiency, c-Si based solar PV modules will dominate the market share and equipment spending, though NPD still believe that the competing thin-film segment will continue to offer revenue potential for the equipment supply chain.
“Strong investments from new thin-film challengers are expected in the coming years, including Hanergy’s plan for several gigawatts of new CIGS capacity within China,” added Colville. “New thin-film capacity is also likely to be built in the Middle East and Latin America, as emerging regions seek to enter the PV manufacturing arena and differentiate themselves from crystalline silicon products made in Asia.”