Spending on PV equipment fell from $12.9 billion in 2011 to $3.6 billion in 2012, according to the new PV Equipment Quarterly from NPD Solarbuzz.
NPD Solarbuzz Vice President Finlay Colville said the outlook looked even more grim for 2013, with spending set to be just $2.2 billion – a fall to a level not seen since 2006.
Suppliers of equipment to photovoltaic cell and module manufacturers received masses of orders in 2010 and 2011. Now, according to NPD Solarbuzz, PV manufacturers are not investing in upgrades or new technologies.
“Spending on high-efficiency process steps barely contributed to 2012 shipments, representing less than 5% of PV equipment spending,” said Colville.
“PV equipment suppliers now find themselves a victim of their own success,” he added.
The surge in investment is part of what led to the global oversupply of solar panels, and the concurrent freefall in prices that led many PV manufacturers to go bankrupt.
While spending on PV equipment isn’t predicted to bounce back for at least three years, Colville stressed that PV equipment suppliers must focus on “enhancing efficiency and understanding which technology roadmap will help them gain market share when spending finally returns.”