Yole Développement updated its new markets and technological study dedicated to the photovoltaic industry: Photovoltaic Technology Equipment & Market Report 2009. Inits analysis, Yole Développement takes into account the financialcrisis: the company presents an overview of the PV industry includingall markets and technological impacts. This markets and technologicalstudy offers a full description and analysis of photovoltaic’s market,technologies, manufacturing processes, equipment and materials. It alsoincludes key figures, analyses and useful tools for strategic decisions.
Financial crisis: a direct impact
Forseveral years, the photovoltaic (PV) industry was primarily seen as anoutstanding financial investment, delivering a high?performancereturn?on?investment (ROI) with limited risk.
The objectiveswere simply to adapt the production capacities to answer a high marketdemand. In this context, polysilicon and wafer producers, cell andmodule manufacturers were assured to sell their entire production.
However,2009 has been quite particular as the financial crisis has not sparedthe PV industry. The credit crunch, lower?than?expected market growth,and a large product offer have in fact forced companies to be moreinnovative than ever. As a consequence the whole PV chain, frompolysilicon producers to module manufacturers, is working on newtechnical solutions to reach grid parity and finally make PV acompetitive renewable energy source.
Government incentives aswell as new power grid structure (e.g. smart grid) will contribute, inthe coming years, in making PV a viable alternative to conventionalenergy sources such as coal or nuclear. As cost reduction has becomeone of the top priorities for equipment and material suppliers, we aretoday seeing them partnering with cell manufacturers to pull productioncost down.
Worldwide investments in R&D as well as in cellproduction capacity have reached an unprecedented level. Cellmanufacturers will start benefiting from economies of scale in thecoming years, but innovation in the field of material and equipmentwill remain a key parameter to sustain the growth. Manufacturers willdevelop more and more new technologies based on well?establishedtechniques from various industries such as semiconductor, display,printing, glass, etc.
Even with a slowdown in the fourth quarterof 2008, the market, boosted by demand for thin?film equipment, wasincredibly high that year. “We estimate that total revenue forequipment exceeded 2.7 Billion Euros. Until the end of 2009 and during2010, because of strong overcapacities, total revenue is forecast todecrease by 45 percent compared to 2008 to 1.5 Billion Euros”, explainsGaetan Rull, Market Analyst at Yole Développement.
Marketdemand is forecast to come back after 2010 and will progressivelyimpact the production sites by increasing the fab utilization rates.Investments in fab extensions and related equipment are expected tofollow in 2011 although they will arrive with a slight time lag behindthe demand increase.
PV equipment market: what has been changed?
• A large number of companies invested in polysilicon manufacturing capacity
Forexample, incumbents such as Hemlock, Wacker and REC are in the processof doubling or even tripling their production capacity while keeping alow manufacturing cost.
Moreover, motivated by a siliconshortage and high prepayments, a lot of new players have purchasedSiemens?type equipment and entered the market in 2009: DC Chemical,LDK, GCL Poly Energy, etc.
Yole Développement also observed newdevelopments in low?cost technologies such as Fluidized Bed Reactorwith players like AE polysilicon, MEMC, or Peaksun, upgradedmetallurgical grade promoted by Becancour, 6N Silicon, Dow Corning, etc.
• The thin?film industry has also seen major announcements
Bothcompanies, Nanosolar or Solyndra, set performance at the next level upwhile decrease the cost per watt. Thanks to revolutionary cell designsand new production concepts, the firms are now positioning themselvesas challengers to First Solar.
First Solar, considered by manyas a true game?changer, definitely demonstrated its strong leadershipand managed to build a Giga?Watt factory in just a few years.
Aftera large run after thin?film equipment, a lower demand and a decrease ofthe silicon price, Yole Développement noticed a real impact on sales inthis domain.