Process control and sub-systems specialist MKS Instruments has reported record sales in the solar manufacturing industry in 2008. MKS almost tripled sales from the same period a year ago, reaching US$49 million. The increase in sales was the result of doubling its customer base in the solar sector to over 120 customers, leveraging a broad product portfolio that included penetration of its RF and DC power systems, reactive gas generators as well as pressure flow instrumentation for vacuum processes and its Residual Gas Analysis equipment for process control.
“We currently expect our solar sales to grow in 2009 based on continued strong orders from major solar customers in Asia,” commented Leo Berlinghieri, CEO and President, MKS Instruments, during a conference call with financial analysts this week. “We also expect to benefit longer term as the solar market gradually transitions to thin film processes to reduce cost per watt. We can leverage more technology in thin film processes such as amorphous silicon where our dollar opportunity is three to four times higher than in crystal and silicon processes.”
Berlinghieri explained that some thin-film PV manufacturers were developing their own proprietary production equipment and processes, which enabled MKS to partner more closely with these customers and offered the company a greater revenue source.