German solar equipment manufacturer’s export ratio is at almost 100 percent

Sales of German manufacturers of solar equipment in the 1st quarter of 2019 were 14 percent higher than expected by mechanical engineers, but did not reach the level of the prior-year quarter (minus 14 percent). Incoming orders increased by 21 percent compared to the previous quarter. According to the German VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment Association »the so-called 5-31 shock has now been overcome«. On May 31, 2018, the Chinese government unexpectedly announced to reduce subsidies for photovoltaic power generation significantly. »Although the incoming orders include replacement investments or retrofits, investment in new equipment is also on the rise again«, says Jutta Trube, head of VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment.
When considering the entire value chain of photovoltaic equipment, systems represent the largest share of sales again with 56 percent, while components and machinery account for 19 and 25 percent, respectively. In the 1st quarter of 2019, thin-film photovoltaic technology was once again the segment with the highest sales (62 percent), followed by equipment for cell production (37 percent). Both segments, equipment for modules and wafer, show sales below one percent in each case. »Besides the significant growth in thin-film photovoltaics as the segment with the highest sales, the PERC and heterojunction technologies are particularly important,« says Peter Fath, Chairman of Board of VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment.
With 80 percent of all sales, the Asian market continues to be the core business of the German photovoltaic equipment companies. »Vietnam replaced Taiwan as the second-largest market with a 31 percent share of sales.« China continues to play the leading role with a share of 43 percent.
In the first quarter of this year, manufacturers of photovoltaic equipment recorded a 2.7 percent drop in sales in America and a 19 percent drop in orders, both related to the previous quarter. In whole Europe, sales rose by 9.2 percent and could grow by a further 6.3 percent according to the expectations of the mechanical engineers. According to VDMA, the European trend was countered by lower domestic sales and a decline in domestic orders. The export ratio of photovoltaic equipment is at almost 99 percent and thus 13 percentage points higher than at the beginning of last year.
»Companies lack sales in their important home market«, says Jutta Trube. »This could be remedied by cell and module production in Germany,« which is economically possible in Germany »under certain circumstances,« according to a recent VDMA study.

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