Intevac sees further PVD tool order potential in solar sector

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High-tech equipment manufacturer Intevac has said it is experiencing some further interest from solar cell producers in Asia that have booked several new tool orders recently.

Management noted in its third quarter earnings conference call that select solar cell producers in both China and Taiwan were considering some production capacity expansions, capacity relocations and technology upgrades for both n-type mono and multicrystalline PERC processes, after recent customer visits. 

The potential for further orders was also attributed to an unidentified equipment supplier being capacity constrained. 

Wendell Blonigan, president and CEO said on the earnings call: “It seems to me that there’s a lot more renewed interest in putting in some capacity or moving some capacity or changing the technology. Certainly, I think the PERC cells, everybody seems to have a roadmap for p-type PERC and I think we’ve got one of the equipment manufacturers is on allocation right now on their aluminium oxide tools. So we’re seeing some activity in equipment side.”

Financial results 

Intevac reported third quarter 2015 revenue of US$18.4 million, which included the expected sign-off and revenue recognition of its first MATRIX PVD tool for solar cell metallization processing, which went through a 12-month qualification cycle.

“For solar PVD, we achieved a significant programme milestone with the sign off of our first MATRIX PVD system crossing the chasm between a research and development program to a production proven tool record is one of the biggest challenges in any new product introduction. Our tools demonstrated production performance was a key factor in generating a new MATRIX PVD order booked in the third quarter from our second tier one customer also for metallization of advanced solar cells,” noted Blonigan.

The company also highlighted that it had achieved its highest level of bookings in more than two years that increased its equipment backlog by US$10 million to US$24.1 million, which includes one MATRIX PVD solar system, one MATRIX implant solar system and one R&D implant tool. 

Management noted that solar equipment order shipments were due in the second-half of 2016. 

“The work we are doing today now with two tier one customers position us as the process tool of record for advanced metallization of high efficiency solar cells,” concluded Blonigan. 

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