The German Engineering Federation (VDMA) has said that around the 100 equipment suppliers in the country that support the PV manufacturing supply chain have seen sales rebound in the first half of 2014.
In June, trade association, SEMI, and VDMA reported clear signals of a recovery in worldwide PV manufacturing equipment orders with the book-to-bill ratio rebounding strongly to 1.24 in the first quarter of 2014.
First-quarter bookings were reported to have increased 18% from the previous quarter to reach US$296 million, 44% higher than the same quarter a year ago.
The figures were the highest quarterly value since the first quarter of 2012, while the last time the book-to-bill ratio was above parity was in the first quarter of 2011.
VDMA has reported that sales in the first six months of this year have increased by almost 39% for German PV equipment suppliers.
Not surprisingly, the main markets remain China and Taiwan, according to VDMA, which noted that around 70% of total sales in the period came from these two countries. Major Chinese producers have been expanding PV module capacity and to a lesser extent solar cell capacity in 2014.
However, VDMA said that global solar cell equipment sales accounted for 39% of the mix, followed closely by thin-film equipment sales. Module assembly equipment only accounted for 15% of the mix, while polysilicon and ingot/wafer equipment sales accounted for only 13% of sales in the period.
Some Chinese PV manufacturers have already switched to domestic equipment suppliers for module assembly equipment, which could account for the lower percentage of module equipment sales from German firms.
VDMA believes the global market share for German PV equipment suppliers remains around 50%.
The trade association said that order intake (bookings) increased by over 30% compared to the same period last year. Bookings from Asia accounted for 78% of the total, while bookings from the German domestic market accounted for almost 10% of the total. Lagging behind was Europe in general, accounting for only 4% of bookings.
However, VDMA noted that bookings from the US have doubled over the same period a year ago and accounted for around 8% of the total, while encouraging signs were seen from sales and bookings from emerging markets such as in Latin America, South Africa and the MENA region.
The only cloud hanging over the sector was said to have been the impact on potential capacity expansion plans by Taiwanese and Chinese PV manufacturers after the latest anti-dumping rulings in the US.