Photovoltaic Equipment Industry Improves by 60% in Germany

The sales turnover of the manufacturers of equipment, machinery and plants for the photovoltaic industry in Germany for the first quarter of 2009 has exceeded the respective quarter of last year by 60 percent. The export ratio rose to 89 percent. The incoming orders significantly increased by 34 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. This is the result of the current quarterly statistics that VDMA carries out specifically for this industry sector.

For the second quarter the participating companies expect yet another turnover growth of nine percent. The orders on hand remain at a high level, the range of orders only slightly went down to 10.2 production months. “The current oversupply of solar modules and financing problems of the manufacturers slow down the expansion of production capacities. Therefore, it comes as no suprise that the sales growth has declined significantly compared to the doubling it has seen for the last three years. Despite the general improvement incoming orders are still 16 percent below the first quarter of 2008. However, after the slump in incoming orders in the second half of 2008 this result is respectable,” says Dr. Eric Maiser, director of the photovoltaic equipment forum within VDMA.

2009 will remain a difficult year for the entire industry. The participating companies report a significantly higher risk of cancellation or postponement of orders. Moreover, the results show a considerable spread: value chain effects tend to result in slightly better business for machinery and plant manufacturers than for equipment makers. Projects with a longer period of implementation require earlier ordering of equipment. Thus, for incoming orders it is decisive whether the companies supply fabs for the production of solar modules, solar cells, thin-film photovoltaics or polysilicon. On top of this, another factor is the overall volume of PV business in the individual companies themselves.

The fact is, however, that the long-term potential of photovoltaics is undisputed. The rapid price decline makes photovoltaic products more attractive for an increasing number of clients. Photovoltaic manufacturers currently have to bear a severe pressure on both, costs and innovation. Only those companies who manage to effectively transform latest technology into production will succeed. “This requires new investments even for already existing fabs and will sustain the demand for equipment. Therefore, successful machine makers continue to develop their technology porfolio at high speed. 2009 is a good year for that,” comments Maiser.

Approximately 100 VDMA member companies are active in the photovoltaic sector. The VDMA photovoltaic equipment forum is the topic-oriented collaboration of the VDMA sectors electronics production (Productronics), glass technology, energy, organic electronics, robotics and automation, laser technology and photonics, as well as surface treatment, vacuum technology and flat panel dipslays. The foundation of the forum has allowed for an extension of this topic within VDMA, closer networking and the use of synergies between the VDMA sectors as well as the creation of a PV brand for VDMA.

The German Engineering Federation (VDMA) represents more than 3,000 companies in the engineering industry, many of which are small and medium sized enterprises. With about 975,000 employees all over Germany and a sales turnover of 205 billion Euros (in 2008) the industry is the biggest employer and one of the leading sectors of the German industry as a whole.