Solar, Utility Scale

Applied Materials Drops SunFab Sales

Applied Materials Inc. this week announced plans to restructure its Energy and Environmental Solutions (EES) segment. As part of this plan, the company said that it will stop sales of its SunFab thin-film solar lines and refocus on its LED business.

Upon completion of the restructuring plan, annual operating expenses are expected to decrease by at least $100 million on an annualized basis. The restructuring plan is intended to make EES a profitable segment in fiscal year 2011.

As part of the restructuring, Applied will discontinue sales to new customers of its SunFab fully-integrated lines for manufacturing thin film solar panels and will offer individual tools for sale to thin film solar manufacturers, including chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and physical vapor deposition (PVD) equipment. R&D efforts to improve thin film panel efficiency and high-productivity deposition will continue.

The company will support existing SunFab customers with services, upgrades and capacity increases through its Applied Global Services segment. Applied’s solar R&D center in Xi’an, China will concentrate on advancing its c-Si solar and other technologies.

“While Applied has delivered significant innovations with our SunFab production line and made substantial progress on our technology roadmap, the thin film market has been negatively impacted by several factors, including delays in utility-scale solar adoption, solar panel manufacturers’ challenges in obtaining affordable capital, changes and uncertainty in government renewable energy policies, and competitive pressure from crystalline silicon technologies,” said Mike Splinter, chairman and CEO of Applied Materials.