IMS Research believes a PV manufacturing equipment replacement cycle could be the only bright spot in the near-term as suppliers face a lean capital investment year due to overcapacity and industry consolidation. The market research firm said that over the next four years it had identified a 20GW sized and US$25 billion sales opportunity for the upgrade or replacement of existing manufacturing capacity to remain competitive.
“IMS Research has estimated that there is between 2.5 and 4GW of existing manufacturing capacity that requires upgrade in 2012, and this figure will steadily ramp-up over the coming few years,” noted Tim Dawson, senior research director IMS Research. “Companies wishing to remain competitive and take the opportunity to gain market share, will be forced to invest in new equipment.”
“The inevitable market shake-out that will see less competitive product makers fall by the wayside, will stimulate further demand for equipment as existing manufacturing capacity goes offline. Manufacturing equipment companies that stand to benefit most are those that have a clear equipment upgrade strategy available to their customers. Furthermore, companies that will resist the shake-out best will be those who can go through these equipment upgrades with the least disruption, readying themselves for the time when end-demand does ultimately pick-up.”
In contrast, NPD Solarbuzz analyst, Finlay Colville believes the next wave of capital spending and technology upgrades will be limited until end-user demand for PV systems reaches around 30GW, as this would trigger tier 1 capacity expansions and higher cell/module efficiencies.