Sales for the German Photovoltaic Industry Down 28 per cent in Q3 2009

The sales turnover of the manufacturers of components, machinery and equipment for the photovoltaic industry in Germany went down by 28 per cent in the third quarter of 2009 compared to the respective quarter of last year. "This has been the first downturn in year-over-year growth we experienced since we started our quarterly industry survey in 2007", reports Dr. Peter Fath, CTO of centrotherm photvoltaics AG and new spokesman of the photovoltaic equipment steering committee within VDMA, the German Engineering Federation. Incoming orders dropped by 69 per cent compared to the previous quarter with a noticeable decline of orders from Asia.

Record sales of 2008 not achieved any more
"The slump in orders started already during the third quarter of 2008. An intermediate high during the first quarter of 2009 has not resulted in positive turnovers due to displacements and cancellations. However, the bottom should be reached now", Fath comments the result. With 78 per cent the export ratio continues its descent from 88 per cent in spring 2009. "Generally speaking the domestic turnover is more robust during this crisis. The American market for photovoltaic equipment does not yet meet the ambitious expectations.

However, after a complete standstill, incoming orders from America reached last year's volume", adds Dr. Eric Maiser, director of the photovoltaic equipment forum within VDMA. The average range of orders reported by the participating companies went down to 7.6 production months by the end of September, thus still being three months above the respective VDMA average. According to the estimates of the companies the turnover is expected to increase again during the fourth quarter of 2009. "Certainly the record sales of the year 2008 will not be reached again. A decrease of ten per cent is most likely", states Maiser.

Engineering industry remains key for cost reduction
The conditions for photovoltaics in Germany have changed with the announcement of an additional 15 per cent drop of the feed-in-tariff recently which will come into effect by April 2010. "It is not clear yet, whether the machinery industry will profit from the continuously high price pressure on the photovoltaics producers, or whether the number of our clients and thus the tendency to invest will decline", explains Fath. After the Copenhagen summit it remains important that demand for photovoltaics speeds up globally, and becomes a success story beyond Germany alone, he says.

"There is an increasing number of reports from our industry that the order situation has improved during the fourth quarter. This shows that only investment in up-to-date production equipment helps the manufacturers to cope with cost pressure. German machine makers are forerunners with innovative innovative production solutions.

However, in the machinery industry too, there will be winners and looers", stresses Fath.

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