600 MW HJT & SWCT Order For Meyer Burger

Unidentified Non-Chinese Solar Company Places 600 MW Heterojunction & SWCT Core Equipment Order With Meyer Burger For CHF74 Million ($74 Million)
01:06 AM (Beijing Time) - 15. December 2018
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PV production equipment supplier Meyer Burger Technology has bagged a CHF74 million order for its Heterojunction (HJT) and SmartWire Connection Technology (SWCT) integrated production line. Interestingly, the client is not from China.

Key Takeaways

  • Meyer Burger has been handed a large scale contract of 600 MW HJT and SWCT integrated production line for a total of CHF 74 million ($74.3 million)
  • Meyer Burger would only say that the client is a leading non-Chinese solar company
  • Delivery of the order will start in Q1/2019, and supply of cell and module production will start in H2/2019
  • The entire 600 MW capacity is scheduled to be in full production by first quarter of 2020

Swiss headquartered PV production equipment supplier Meyer Burger Technology Ltd has bagged the large-scale order worth CHF74 million ($74.3 million) for its Heterojunction (HJT) and SmartWire Connection Technology (SWCT) integrated production line. It only identifies the client as a leading non-Chinese solar company.

Meyer Burger will start supplying this 600 MW of integrated production line to the buyer in the first quarter of 2019, with the start of cell and module production planned in H2/2019. By Q1/2020, the entire capacity is scheduled to be in full production.

The Swiss company’s CEO Hans Brändle called it a ‘game changing’ agreement for its production technology.  “It not only confirms our technology leadership but also substantially strengthens the market acceptance and credibility for our Heterojunction and SmartWire technologies,” Brändle said. HJT enables solar cells to achieve markedly higher efficiencies than traditional silicon solar cells. Due to the superior light yield and outstanding passivation properties of amorphous silicon, cell efficiencies in excess of 24% can be attained. However, despite its efficiency and yield advantages only very few companies produce commercial HJT cells so far. (TaiyangNews will publish its first report on HJT technology in March 2019).

Spanish PV module maker Mondragon Assembly is likely to provide the SWCT equipment, as it secured the rights to assemble this production equipment for Meyer Burger, as announced by the Swiss company in April 2018 (see Meyer Burger Outsources SWCT Production). Under its transformation program, Meyer Burger has decided to shut its Thun located production facility and shift production of diamond wire saws within a year to China where around 85% of solar wafers are being manufactured (see Meyer Burger To Close Down Thun Production).

According to Meyer Burger’s management, the PV equipment market continues to remain ‘challenging, and margin pressure seen for standard PV business solutions underscores the importance of the transformation programme which was announced on 16 October 2018, and makes an increased outsourcing of Meyer Burger’s manufacturing capacity to China all the more important’.

It reiterated its net sales guidance of CHF 400 million to CHF 440 million ($402.6 million to $443 million) for 2018, and expects its EBITDA to be in the higher single digit percentage range, including restructuring cost. Earlier EBITDA guidance was about 10% (see Meyer Burger: Profitable & More Restructuring). On completion of the transformation program, it expects the breakeven level at net earnings with a net sales volume of about CHF 250 million ($251 million), as of FY 2021.

On December 6, 2018, Sentis Capital PCC that owns a 6.14% stake in the Swiss company issued a statement asking Meyer Burger to consider running its own production facilities, especially for HJT and tandem solar cells, using it as competitive advantage. If it does, it would be ‘able to protect its own technology and benefit directly from future improvements in efficiency and throughput of the equipment’, it stated.

Sentis pointed to US thin-film module maker First Solar as an example for this ‘successful strategy.’ In its statement, Sentis urged Meyer Burger to protect its own technology and use its exclusive ties with equipment manufacturers to create value for shareholders. “As Meyer Burger is currently not in a position to finance a production of at least 5 to 10 GW from its own funds, in our opinion this would have to be done through a capital increase on the capital market or through a strategic partner who is prepared to pay a corresponding premium,” suggested Sentis Capital.

A production facility of the capacity level suggested by Sentis Capital resonates with SolarPower Europe’s recently published vision for the European solar manufacturing industry. The European solar lobby association is asking policy makers to provide a framework that would enable investments in large-scale cell and module production again and have the region regain a foothold in this field of the solar value chain. A local integrated 5 GW cell and module production capacity would be able to serve the European market that is anticipated to increase to 15 GW per year soon (see SPE Calls For 5 GW Cell/Module Capacity In Europe).

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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Anu Bhambhani