Smit Ovens to restructure operations

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PV manufacturing equipment specialist Smit Ovens has filed for bankruptcy in the Netherlands to restructure its operations. 

The company issued a brief note confirming the start of bankruptcy proceedings but highlighting that the company expected to continue operations and would be working to “minimise impact on the business of our customers”.

Recently, Smit Ovens received new orders valued at US$9.0 million from PV thin-film customers in the US and Asia. Equipment included active selenisation systems as well as activation furnaces for CIGS thin-film volume production. 

After three years of extremely limited capital spending, due to chronic overcapacity across the PV industry, many equipment suppliers are struggling financially. 

However, with the majority of PV manufacturers returning to some level of profitability in 2014 due to increased global demand, the next technology buy cycle and capacity expansion cycle has started. 

Yet, one of the challenges for equipment suppliers is having the necessary financial liquidity to build, ship install and qualify new tool orders, which has already led to some bankruptcies and mergers. 

According to ongoing research by PV Tech and sister technical journal, Photovoltaics International, thin-film capacity announcements in 2014, primarily CdTe and CIGS reached around 2GW, which included upgraded technology and new capacity planned to come on stream in 2015 through 2016. 

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