SAN FRANCISCOApplied Materials Inc. zoomed to the top spot among providers of photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing equipment in 2008, its first full year in the market, according to market research firm VLSI Research Inc.
Applied (Santa Clara, Calif.) notched $797 million in revenue from equipment for manufacturing crystalline solar cells and integrated thin-film solar production lines, according to VLSI Research. Applied bested by a wide margin Oerlikon Solar, the second leading provider of PV manufacturing equipment with revenue of $552 million, the firm said.
GT Solar International (Merrimack, N.H.) placed third with revenue of $535 million, VLSI (Santa Clara) said.
"The top 10 list is dominated by European companies with seven based in Europe," said John West, managing director of VLSI Research Europe, in a statement. West said European equipment suppliers got a head start in PV manufacturing equipment thanks to government incentives.
A report last month by market researcher Frost & Sullivan warned that Europe would lose its leadership in photovoltaics to the U.S. and China due to price pressure and political support for renewable energy in the U.S.
Applied, the leader in semiconductor manufacturing equipment, has put significant resources behind its SunFab Solar Module Production Line, which has
experienced some glitches. Applied's solar tool sales jumped from zero in 2006 to nearly $800 million in 2008.
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