PV equipment specialist, centrotherm has secured orders worth around €15 million (US$20.5 million) from Shaanxi Non-ferrous Photovoltaic Technology Co., Ltd.
Shaanxi Non-ferrous, also known as Shaanxi Youser Photovoltaic Technology Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of state-owned Shaanxi Youser Group recently placed a major order with Schmid as part of its PV manufacturing expansion to 1GW.
The order for centrotherm’s PECVD systems are intended to support Shaanxi Youser’s planned 380MW multicrystalline solar cell production plant, mirroring Schmid’s order for wet chemical processing equipment.
Centrotherm also received orders for its annealing systems for a 120MW monocrystalline solar cell production line.
Finlay Colville, vice president of NPD Solarbuzz told PV Tech that the expansion plans from Shaanxi Youser went back several years, with key equipment suppliers having waited for some time to get the first orders.
“The announcements from Schmid and Centrotherm are interesting from a few standpoints, noted Colville. “First, it shows there is still an appetite from Chinese entrants to build new c-Si factories and rely heavily upon European manufactured components. There was risk that when spending returned, there would be pressure on Chinese manufacturers to effectively keep the money inside China and use domestic tool suppliers that entered the PV industry back in 2011. It also highlights that new capacity from new entrants is still being based upon copying existing c-Si mono and multi process flows, and not moving to more exotic cell concepts.”
The Shaanxi Youser order for centrotherm is also notable as the company highlighted that it was the single largest equipment order the company had received since exiting restructuring activities.
However, according to Colville the move by Shaanxi Youser to expand capacity has other implications.
“Behind Youser’s expansion plans is the fact that the great consolidation of Chinese manufacturing clearly did not happen over the past few years. This is seen, not just in a new entrant adding hundreds of megawatts, but also in the many tier 2 and tier 3 Chinese suppliers that have restarted operations, or ramped up lines dormant for more than 18 months. While in the past, this was motivated by exporting product to warehouses in Europe, today this is made possible only by the levels of deployment in China, sanctioned from Beijing,” added Colville.
The market analyst also referred to the increasing trade war impact on Chinese manufacturers and the response by the Chinese Government to rapidly develop its domestic downstream PV market to support the entire domestic PV supply chain.
“The country has now created a whole lower-tier supply chain that is focused almost exclusively on meeting domestic demand. In practice, this is basically decoupling many from the threat of any overseas trade restrictions and provides a safety net for the banks offering loans to the manufacturing segment.”
According to centrotherm, tool shipments are expected to begin in October, 2014.