PV equipment specialist, Schmid, has revealed its second major tool order of the month, with a contract to supply the first of its turnkey bifacial cell and module Geminus production lines.
Under the contract, Schmid will supply 110MW of turnkey equipment for a new cell and module line in San Andrés Tuxtla, Mexico, being built by local manufacturer ERDM Solar.
It follows another order at the start of December to an unnamed manufacturer in Asia and suggests the battered PV equpiment manufacturing sector may be winessing the first signs of a recovery.
Schmid said the latest order was the first for its Geminus production line, which combines bifacial cell and multi-busbar module technology and was unveiled at the EU PVSEC event in Amsterdam in September.
It will enable ERDM to expand its current output from 60 to 170MW.
Christian Schmid, the company’s president and CEO, said: “We have received this order within three months after Geminus has been introduced at the PVSEC in Amsterdam, which is a clear proof that the market has just waited for a new technology evolution.
“In the past years efficiency improvement in PV industry has been steady, but in the order of 0.2% annually. Now the Geminus technology boosts the efficiency by more than 1% without adding additional costs and hence will be for sure a game changer in the PV industry.”
A further factor cited by Schmid for the order was that non-Chinese and Taiwanese solar products were becoming more popular due to the decision by the US to impose heavy tariffs on imports from both those countries. Mexico is frequently touted as a PV manufacturing destination in the making due to its exemption from any solar import duties worldwide.
Alejandro Caballero Robles, CEO of ERDM Solar, said the line would begin operating in the third quarter of 2015, in time to capitalise on burgeoning domestic demand for power in Mexico: “The local electricity demand has exploded during the last years and PV is the only fast and sustainable solution for a quick decentralised grid expansion.
“Highest energy harvest at lowest cost and space requirements is crucial for developing the country into a major player in affordable renewable energy supply. The Schmid bifacial multi-busbar technology is the perfect solution due to the much higher energy harvest as in comparison to standard modules.”
Last week, trade body SEMI published figures indicating only a marginal improvement in equpiment suppliers' order books this year. However, a number of large orders in recent months, combined with a raft of capacity expansion announcements by PV manufacturers this year suggest 2015 may prove more fruitful for tool suppliers.