PV 2010 book to bill averaged 1.27, expect change in 2011

The photovoltaics (PV) book-to-bill published by Solarbuzz shows a 12-month average for 2010 of 1.27. Expect a dip in Q2’11, as tier 1 c-Si and thin film PV panel suppliers begin to experience a capacity expansion slowdown.

March 15, 2011 — In Q4’10 (ending December 31, 2010), the PV Book-to-Bill posted a three-month average of 1.10, according to the PV Book-to-Bill analysis featured in the Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report. Across the entire year, the 12-month average in 2010 reached 1.27 compared to 0.97 for 2009.

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Figure. Consolidated PV Book-to-Bill at the end of Q4’10. Source: Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly

“The latest PV Book-to-Bill figures reflect the ongoing investments across both c-Si and thin-film segments, which are driving strong capacity expansions for 2011. Tier 1 c-Si manufacturers are expanding to reach vertically integrated GW+ status on the back of still strong order books. Conversely, investments into a-Si/uc-Si and CIGS thin-film technologies represent the continued push by new entrants to find low-cost alternatives to First Solar’s [CdTe] exclusive challenge to c-Si dominance in the market today,” said Finlay Colville, senior analyst at Solarbuzz.

The consolidated PV Book-to-Bill analysis yields an averaged figure based on industry-wide equipment investments across established and emerging technologies. However, tier 1 cell manufacturer trends can be a more appropriate leading indicator to assess the impact of production equipment used to meet end-market PV demand.

“Tier 1 designated c-Si cell and thin-film panel producers satisfied 75% of PV demand during 2010. Equipment supply to this crucial midstream solar cell manufacturing segment highlights the portion of overall PV capacity expansion that is most likely to drive the level and timing of any panel oversupply during 2H’11,” noted Colville.

For the tier 1 segment, the PV Book-to-Bill ratio was higher at 1.39 during Q4’10, with a 12-month average of 1.26. Early indications are that this segment’s Book-to-Bill ratio will dip below parity during Q2’11. This would represent the first sign of capacity expansion slowdown by leading PV producers and the beginning of a downturn in revenues on offer to leading PV equipment suppliers through 2H’11 and 1H’12.

Working with the PV equipment supply chain, the Solarbuzz PV Book-to-Bill analysis maps out quarterly spending profiles by all PV manufacturers with the relevant bookings and revenues assigned to the appropriate process tool manufacturers.

The Book-to-Bill ratio compares the total amount of orders received to the total amount of product shipped and billed within a given period. It is the ratio of demand to supply in the equipment supply chain. A PV Book-to-Bill ratio of 1.10 for Q4’10 means that US$110 of orders was received by PV equipment suppliers for every US$100 of product shipped.

Photovoltaic capital equipment spending trends can now be tracked clearly by the PV Book-to-Bill, featured within the Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report. Added in November 2010, this analysis provides key performance indicators that track quarterly changes in the order books of the global equipment supply chain. The trends across the various Book-to-Bill metrics capture the overall health of PV manufacturing and offer a means of forecasting the size and timing of announced capacity expansion phases. The PV Book-to-Bill figures are updated quarterly, and include data relating to the preceding three-month period. In addition to releasing consolidated updates each quarter, detailed findings will be featured within forthcoming editions of the Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report, with the next release due out April 2011. Analysis will also be provided on an ad-hoc basis in support of Solarbuzz PV equipment reporting throughout the year, to better understand key developments and trends impacting strongly on the PV equipment supply chain. To learn more about the PV Book-to-Bill data or the Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report, visit www.solarbuzz.com

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