PARIS – Solar photovoltaic equipment spending declined by 72 percent last year, from $12.9 billion in 2011 to $3.6 billion in 2012, according to market research firm NPD Solarbuzz LLC.
In its latest report, titled PV Equipment Quarterly, NPD Solarbuzz said it anticipates that solar PV spending decline again in 2013 to $2.2 billion. According to the firm, the continuing decline is due to an interruption of capacity investment by PV manufacturers and fewer upgrades, either in new technology or higher efficiency.
In a statement, Finlay Colville, vice president at NPD Solarbuzz, explained that PV equipment suppliers now find themselves a victim of their own success. “Excessive investment in 2010 and 2011 was the catalyst of the over-capacity and over-supply situation that exists today," Colville said. "It was also a key factor in end-market price erosion that forced many of their customers to file for insolvency. The days of PV-specific backlogs and revenues at the billion-dollar level are unlikely to be repeated for at least three years.”
Based on PV revenues in 2012, Solarbuzz said it expects that GT Advanced Technologies, Meyer Burger, Applied Materials and Apollo Solar will lead the PV equipment market this year and record PV-specific revenues beyond $400 million.
Solarbuzz warned tool suppliers about the emergence of a secondary equipment market across China and Taiwan, which would potentially delay any upturn in equipment spending.
“Today, there are actually two factors that may result in legacy capacity being recycled,” Colville said. “First, the forced consolidation of tier 1 and tier 2 c-Si manufacturers in China would prevent any strong shakeout of excess capacity within China. Also, trade wars may result in surplus capacity simply being relocated outside China to avoid import tariffs, with overseas countries welcoming any resulting job creation.”
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