Centrotherm Group

centrotherm photovoltaics publishes preliminary results and announces extensive efficiency program and refocusing

editor, 06 March 2012

- Revenue up 11.9 % to EUR 698.5 million

- EBIT operating loss of EUR 19.8 million

- "ct focus" efficiency program launched to reduce costs and further adjust capacities

- Business refocusing: strategic concentration on crystalline silicon along photovoltaic value chain

centrotherm photovoltaics AG, Blaubeuren, continued to report growth in the 2011 financial year, which was a difficult year for the solar sector: revenue generated by the globally leading provider of technology and equipment to the photovoltaic sector grew by 11.9 % to EUR 698.5 million according to preliminary figures (previous year: EUR 624.2 million). Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell from EUR 101.3 million to EUR 10.2 million in the 2011 reporting period. The company reported a EUR 19.8 million operating loss at the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) level (previous year: EUR 75.4 million profit). Continued tensions within the sector, in particular, tangibly affected the 2011 earnings trend. One-offs amounting to a loss off EUR 75.0 million arose from adjustments to individual large-scale projects, and a weak third- and fourth-quarter operating profit and corresponding adjustments, which reflected market trends. Due to the surprisingly drastic deterioration in market and financial circumstances, the Group failed to achieve its guidance for the 2011 financial year of EUR 710 million of consolidated revenue, and a slightly positive EBIT margin.

Segment trends

In the Solar Cell & Module segment, revenue was up from EUR 404.5 million in the previous year to EUR 607.9 million in 2011, thereby running counter to a generally difficult trend in the sector. The strained market situation, particularly in the fourth quarter of 2011, resulted in the postponement and cancellation of some projects, and necessitated a revaluation of inventories, which fed through to a fall in segment earnings to EUR 71.9 million (previous year: EUR 91.6 million). In the Silicon & Wafer segment, revenue stood at EUR 57.9 million (previous year: EUR 201.7 million), and EBIT reported a loss of EUR 70.3 million (previous year: EUR 21.2 million profit). This segment's business trend was primarily affected by the tense sector situation, and the polysilicon price fall. Given the extremly worsening of the market and financial situation, the Management Board was prompted to apply adjustments to individual large-scale projects in Asia in the third quarter, which exerted a considerably negative impact on segment operating earnings.

In the Thin Film Module segment, the company reported EUR 32.7 million of revenue (previous year: EUR 18.0 million) – predominantly from the wholly-owned FHR Anlagenbau subsidiary. EBIT improved to a EUR 21.4 million loss, in line with expectations (previous year: EUR 37.4 million loss).

Sector environment affects order trends

The financial year elapsed was characterized by ongoing uncertainty on financial markets, the difficult photovoltaic sector market environment, and customers' continued reluctance to invest. Correspondingly, centrotherm photovoltaics reported EUR 423.4 million as its total new order intake in the 2011 financial year. The Solar Cell & Module segment generated 90 % of these orders. The order book position stood at EUR 423.0 million as of December 31, 2011, of which EUR 234.6 million was attributable to the Solar Cell & Module segment, EUR 176.1 million to the Silicon & Wafer segment, and EUR 12.3 million to orders generated in the Thin Film Module segment.

"ct focus" efficiency program launched

The Management Board has responded to the continued tensions on the market, and has launched its "ct focus" efficiency program, which will run alongside costs and sales initiatives that are already in place. The program's declared objective is to grow profitably and sustainably with a streamlined and efficient organizational structure, and a strategic focus on crystalline silicon along the photovoltaic value chain. This program's first step will entail a significant reduction of costs, and an adjustment to Group personnel capacities. The company aims to achieve around EUR 22 million of cost savings per year by the end of 2013. Along with a refocusing on business entailing production systems and technologies to manufacture crystalline solar cells and modules, and the production of high-purity silicon, a further significant component of the program will be the expansion of the Semiconductors & Microelectronics area. The Management Board has decided in this connection to close the Thin Film Module segment at the Blaubeuren site and to transfer some areas to Asia. This move will bundle resources, and create a unit that is closely geared to the market. An extensive sales campaign conducted by all segments will complete the "ct focus" package of measures.

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centrotherm has been selected as the provider for basic engineering and for the technology concept for large-scale polysilicon project in Saudi Arabia by IDEA Polysilicon Company

editor, 08 February 2012

- Customer intends to build a polysilicon factory with annual capacity of 10,000 tonnes

- MENA region highly interesting market for photovoltaic industry

centrotherm SiTec GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of centrotherm photovoltaics, has signed a contract for the basic engineering and the technology concept for a polysilicon factory with IDEA Polysilicon Company (IPC) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The factory with an annual capacity of 10,000 tonnes will be situated in the Saudi Arabian city of Yanbu.

All relevant ministries and raw material suppliers, such as the Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Aramco, the Royal Commission, National Industrial Clusters, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, King AbdulAziz City for Science and Technology, King Abdullah Center for Renewable Energy, and King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center have been invited to the signing ceremony.

“We are delighted to have been able to attract a renowned partner such as centrotherm with such expertise along the solar value chain for our basic engineering and technology concept,” said Marwan Al Ghurair, CEO of IDEA Polysilicon Company.

The criteria for the selection of centrotherm as partner for IPC were besides the supply of competitive polysilicon technology and equipment also the subsequent extension opportunity along the solar value chain up to the module. This includes, for example, the production of metallurgical silicon and the manufacturing of ingots and wafers. This will lead to an increase in domestic production and the creation of new jobs.

The Arab region is an interesting potential growth market for centrotherm photovoltaics, the world’s leading technology and equipment supplier in the solar industry, who do more than 90% of their turnover outside of Germany. “There is tremendous potential for solar energy in Saudi Arabia and the other states of the MENA region, which enjoy a lot of sunshine, as solar power is extremely cost effective compared with other energy sources,” said Robert M. Hartung, CEO and Management Board Chairman of centrotherm photovoltaics AG.

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centrotherm photovoltaics reports successful cooperation with Chinese state company in key polysilicon production equipment areas

editor, 19 December 2011

- Commissioning of second expansion step currently underway with annual capacity of 3,000 tones

- Customer STSIC focusing on integrated solar manufacturing chain with centrotherm technology and systems ranging from polysilicon production to ingoting and solar cell production

centrotherm SiTec GmbH, one of the world’s leading technology providers for polysilicon, last week celebrated the successful cooperation with its Chinese customer Shaanxi Tianhong Silicon Industrial Corporation (STSIC) in key equipment items for the first expansion step for polysilicon production. The Chinese state company, which is headquartered in the Shaanxi Province, had previously signed its final acceptance, the so-called Final Acceptance Test (FAT). The two companies will meanwhile optimize processes further and bolster research and development into cutting energy consumption. STSIC has expressed its satisfaction with the cooperation venture, and is pleased with its results. centrotherm SiTec, for its part, enjoys certain benefits in terms of technology.

The first expansion step is arranged for annual capacity of around 1,250 tonnes of polysilicon to semiconductor quality. centrotherm SiTec prepared the factory concept, developed the process flow, accompanied the project through the planning and implementation stages, delivered the key equipment (reactors and converters), and started up the system together with the customer. centrotherm photovoltaics and STSIC are working hard together on the current commissioning of the second expansion step at STSIC, which entails state-of-the-art 24-pair reactor technology, and offers planned annual production of 3,000 tonnes to semiconductor quality.

Along with polysilicon production, STSIC is focusing on technology and systems from centrotherm to manufacture ingots and solar cells. Favorable production costs can be achieved by relying on this integrated solar value chain. STSIC achieved "First Ingot Out" with a centrotherm multi-crystalline ingot furnace in the middle of this year. Furthermore, two solar cell production lines with a total of 60 MW annual capacity are currently being commissioned.

For centrotherm, STSIC is an important solar market player that focuses on integration along the solar value chain to achieve optimally coordinated manufacturing processes that offer both lower operating costs and outstanding quality.

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centrotherm photovoltaics reports 38.7 percent revenue growth to EUR 635.7 million in first nine months of 2011 – EBIT at EUR 25.2 million in difficult market environment

editor, 10 November 2011

- Revenue leaps 85.1 percent to EUR 546.5 million and EBIT rises 70.2 percent to EUR 102.3 million in core Solar Cell & Module segment

centrotherm photovoltaics AG has confirmed the preliminary results that it announced on October 28. The globally leading international technology and equipment supplier for the photovoltaics sector grew its consolidated revenue by 38.7 percent to reach EUR 635.7 million in the first nine months of 2011 (prior-year period: EUR 458.4 million), thereby already exceeding its reported 2010 full-year revenue in the first nine months of this year. Operating earnings (EBIT) were reported at EUR 25.2 million (previous-year period: EUR 54.2 million), corresponding to a 4.0 percent EBIT margin (previous-year period: 11.8 percent). Consolidated net income fell to EUR 16.6 million, compared with EUR 37.4 million in the prior-year period, and earnings per share stood at EUR 0.78 (previous-year period: EUR 1.76).

"Our very good order book position in the first half of the year allowed us to report significant revenue growth. However, the difficult market environment, the rising economic risks around the world, and uncertainties on financial markets have effects on our business and earnings trends," noted Dr. Thomas Riegler, CFO of centrotherm photovoltaics AG. "We have positioned ourselves well to meet the challenges with measures and our flexible production model that we have implemented in good time. We anticipate that the solar market will continue to report sustainable growth despite its current weakness."

Segment trend reflects strong core business

The Solar Cell & Module segment retained its growth dynamism in the first nine months of the current financial year, hitting a new revenue record with growth of 85.1 percent to EUR 546.5 million (previous-year period: EUR 295.2 million). Operating earnings (EBIT) underwent a pronounced increase of 70.2 percent to EUR 102.3 million (prior-year period: EUR 60.1 million), reflecting an 18.7 percent EBIT margin (prior-year period: 20.4 percent).

In the Silicon & Wafer segment, revenue fell 56.8 percent to EUR 65.3 million, compared with EUR 151.3 million in the same period of the previous year, and EBIT was reported at EUR -61.1 million, compared with EUR 18.9 million in the prior-year period. The sharp fall in the polysilicon price and more difficult financing terms fed through to unforeseeable delays for individual large-scale projects in Asia, thereby burdening our earnings. The Management Board has responded immediately to the changes in the overall circumstances surrounding the Silicon & Wafer segment with an extensive catalogue of measures including a targeted sales campaign, an expansion of the "Performance Plus" cost-efficiency program, and a task force to focus on further development.

Revenue in the Thin Film segment increased to EUR 23.9 million, compared with EUR 11.9 million in the previous-year period. The segment result (EBIT) amounted to EUR -16.1 million (previous-year period: EUR -24.7 million), which was mainly impacted by costs for the further technical development of equipment.

New order intake trends and R&D

New orders worth a total of EUR 410.7 million have been signed in the period until the end of September of this year (prior-year period: EUR 707.7 million). New orders worth EUR 376.4 million were received in the Solar Cell & Module segment, orders of EUR 25.6 million were received in the Silicon & Wafer segment, and the Thin Film segment recorded orders worth EUR 8.7 million.

The Group's total order book position amounted to EUR 524.1 million as of September 30, 2011 (December 31, 2010: EUR 843.8 million). Of this amount, 62.3 percent is attributable to the Solar Cell & Module Segment, 33.5 percent to the Silicon & Wafer segment, and 4.2 percent to the Thin Film segment. Total research and development (R&D) investments were up by 27.2 percent to reach EUR 38.6 million in the first nine months of 2011 (previous-year period: EUR 30.3 million).

Outlook

Given the more difficult sector environment, the Management Board is assuming higher revenue than previously forecast, and a slightly positive EBIT margin for the current 2011 financial year.

Discussions about contracts with potential customers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are developing positively. We aim to bolster our positioning in this growth region. The company's strengths in its core business and integrated factories area are also to be further expanded with the investments that have already been launched.

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Information letter, August 2011

editor, 30 August 2011

Dear Valued Business Partner,

We would like to cordially inform you about a change in the Board of Management of centrotherm SiTec GmbH.

Dr. Dirk Stenkamp has been appointed as CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of centrotherm SiTec GmbH as of beginning of August, in addition to his current position as COO and Member of the Executive Management Board at centrotherm photovoltaics AG. He succeeds Dr. Albrecht Mozer who will continue to support the centrotherm Group and its worldwide customers in the areas of technology and sales.

Dr. Dirk Stenkamp has been appointed as CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of centrotherm SiTec GmbH as of beginning of August, in addition to his current position as COO and Member of the Executive Management Board at centrotherm photovoltaics AG. He succeeds Dr. Albrecht Mozer who will continue to support the centrotherm Group and its worldwide customers in the areas of technology and sales.

Before joining the centrotherm Group in January 2010, Dr. Stenkamp was a Member of the Executive Management Board of the Carl Zeiss Semiconductor Technology Group. In almost 20 years of his career, Dr. Dirk Stenkamp has gathered a vast experience in silicon-based technologies, including crystal growth, microstructural characterization as well as silicon processing for IC applications.

centrotherm SiTec GmbH, Management Board.

centrotherm photovoltaics succeeds ISE-certified solar cell with sensational 20 percent efficiency

editor, 29 August 2011

- Company presents product innovations and updates along the solar value chain at leading EU PVSEC photovoltaic trade fair

- All technological developments focus on higher efficiencies and lower operating costs

- Major order for multi-crystalline ingot furnaces from Taiwan for centrotherm SiTec

At this year's 26th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC: September 5 to 8, 2011, in Hamburg) centrotherm photovoltaics AG is presenting technology and systems boosting efficiency along the photovoltaic value chain. There is great demand for efficiency enhancements and lower operating costs in view of the intensely competitive market environment among solar cell and module manufacturers. The globally leading technology and equipment provider is responding to these demand from its customers with state-of-the-art production systems and corresponding upgrade and retrofit packages.

Solar cell & Module product update

"We are on the way to 20 percent cell efficiencies in industrial production. We have already reached this magic threshold in the laboratory, and we have current ISE certification for a sensational 20.00 percent efficiency level," was how Dr. Peter Fath, CTO at centrotherm photovoltaics AG, expressed his delight at this development. This peak value was achieved on the basis of centaurus rear side technology developed by centrotherm photovoltaics. The reference surface area is the industry standard wafer size of 156 mm x 156 mm on mono-crystalline silicon. "We will be working flat out on transferring these excellent figures to mass production," commented Dr. Fath. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE is Europe's largest solar research institution, and is regarded as the leading inspection and certification institution for the photovoltaic sector.

centrotherm photovoltaics identifies enormous potential in the Solar Cell & Module area for both its selective emitter and centaurus rear side upgrade technologies. Up to 800 of a global total of around 1,000 solar cell production lines can be retrofitted to improve their costs and boost their efficiency. The centaurus rear side technology is currently being installed at a major Chinese state company with the aim of achieving more than 19 percent cell efficiency in mass production.

Silicon & Wafer product innovations

centrotherm SiTec, a company in which the centrotherm photovoltaics Group bundles its silicon expertise, is presenting a newly developed Medium Voltage Ignition System (MVI) in the polysilicon power supply area. This MVI was specially developed to optimize CVD reactors' production start for polysilicon manufacturing. By contrast with conventional CVD reactor pre-heating technology, the MVI ignites the slim rods within a significantly shorter process time, thereby enabling higher production capacities and lower operating costs. The fully automated process and a contamination-free environment compared to predecessor technology comprise further advantages. All CVD reactors that are currently in operation can be retrofitted with the MVI technology.

With its ingot squaring and brick cropping systems, centrotherm SiTec GmbH is presenting two key equipment items for integrated ingot and wafer production. The automated ingot squaring system saws the multi-crystalline ingots into bricks. The brick cropping system cuts these bricks to the precise corresponding length. Wafers are later produced from these bricks. Both systems deploy state-of-the-art diamond wire saw technology that enables the highest-precision incisions accompanied by maximum productivity and optimized manufacturing costs, and both the squaring and cropping systems can also be configured to saw mono-crystalline ingots and bricks.

Ahead of the EU PVSEC, centrotherm SiTec received a major order from Taiwan to supply multi-crystalline ingot furnaces to produce ingots with an annual capacity of around 140 MW peak. The order volume lies in the single-digit range in millions of euros. The first multi-crystalline ingot furnaces will be shipped in October, with the last delivery occurring in the first quarter of 2012.

Thin Film Module product update

In the Thin Film area, two news items are set to form the focus of positive discussion: centrotherm photovoltaics has successfully concluded the development of its new second-generation selenium (Se) systems to manufacture CIGS thin film modules. The systems have reached and exceeded the planned performance improvements in terms of homogeneity and uptime in acceptance tests at Blaubeuren, Germany. These systems will also be offered in the future as single equipment items to produce thin film modules. centrotherm photovoltaics' selenium and sputtering systems comprise key equipment items to manufacture thin film modules that can be adapted in line with customer wishes.

The second news item comes from the Far East: the efficiency of the CIGS thin film module from centrotherm photovoltaics' production line at Sunshine in Taiwan has been continuously enhanced in the direction of 11 percent. The modules (1,400 x 1,100 mm²) can achieve output of more than 150 W peak. The developers have also paid particular attention to the environmental aspect of the centrotherm CIGS technology: the process management utilizes nonhazardous and recyclable elementary selenium instead of highly toxic hydrogen selenide (H2Se).

Inspection systems product innovation

GP Solar GmbH, a wholly-owned centrotherm photovoltaics subsidiary, is taking the opportunities offered by the EU PVSEC to showcase three innovations for the quality assurance of solar cells and modules. With the GP Solar Inspect CHROME, a completely revised product line for in-line measuring technology is being launched on the market that is distinguished by numerous improvements in terms of hardware and software. An in-house development in the camera optics area enables the spectral analysis of wafers, cells and modules, and thereby the highest level of measuring precision for innovative processes such as selective emitters or rear side contacts. The new software enables the live defect analysis of up to 600 samples, and renders the smallest process problems visible. The software will also be fitted with a Chinese-language user interface in the future.

The GP TOPO-D .Scan represents a global product innovation: this is an in-line inspection system that measures the entire topography of wafers and solar cells on a 3-D basis. Measurement occurs within one second without interrupting the production process. The GP TF-SENSE .Scan is a high-quality inspection system that offers 100 percent inspection of thin film modules. A particular attraction of this technology is that each individual substrate can be measured without a detrimental effect on the production cycle. All of these developments share the ability to immediately identify the smallest defects. This reduces rejections, resulting in verifiably lower production costs. These inspection systems can be integrated flexibly, very rapidly and easily within production processes.

Roll-to-roll product update

FHR Anlagenbau, a wholly-owned centrotherm photovoltaics subsidiary, is demonstrating its expertise in the flexible photovoltaic area with corresponding foil coating solutions. The roll-to-roll system concepts that deploy PVD or PECVD technology, and which have been developed on a customer-specific basis, are appropriate for various substrate materials and diverse solar cell concepts. FHR boasts major know-how particularly in the area of foil of solar cells that are based on CIGS and a-Si, and regards itself as in a leading position globally in this context. FHR is reporting great success in accompanying several international customers in taking the step from pilot production to mass production, including some very successful partnerships in China. The flexible, light and unbreakable cells are also particularly suited to large industrial roofs, and applications such as the textile, automotive and aerospace industries. Thin film solar cells generated using this roll-to-roll procedure are unrivalled when it comes to uneven surfaces.

"As a solar pioneer and technology leader, we are pleased to set benchmarks at the EU PVSEC in Hamburg with efficiency-enhancing developments in all business areas," was how Dr. Fath explained his company's involvement. "It is our constant aim to further expand our customers' advantage with respect to cost-leadership and efficiency in this context. New customers benefit in terms of the latest production systems, and our existing customers benefit from our upgrade packages."

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centrotherm photovoltaics bundles Solar Cell & Module segment activities within centrotherm cell & module GmbH

editor, 24 August 2011

centrotherm photovoltaics AG, the globally leading provider of technology and equipment to the photovoltaics sector, will bundle its Solar Cell & Module segment within a wholly-owned subsidiary in future. This forms part of the consistent strategic further development of the existing Group structure. "We are convinced that with this market-oriented organization that is strongly geared to implementation, we have created an excellent basis for further profitable growth, innovative strength, and the extension of our technology-leadership," commented Robert M. Hartung, CEO and Management Board Spokesman of centrotherm photovoltaics AG.

With effect as of September 1, centrotherm cell & module GmbH will take over the operating activities of the Solar Cell & Module segment, which has been established within centrotherm photovoltaics AG to date. The segment's assets, processes and staff that are essential to its operating activities will be transferred to the new company as a consequence. This organizational step has no effect on centrotherm photovoltaics’ production units and sites.

Dr. Josef Haase (CEO) and Olaf Demuth (CFO) will manage centrotherm cell & module GmbH, which is to be based at Blaubeuren. "Our customers will benefit to an even greater extent from our proximity to them, as well as our individual project processing and customer care that is more strongly oriented to the development of solutions," commented Dr. Haase. "As a technology leader, we are constantly endeavoring to further expand our innovation leadership for high-performance cells and modules. We support our customers in optimizing their integration along the solar value chain in this context, in order to boost their competitiveness and strengthen their cost-leadership."

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centrotherm photovoltaics reports a successful first half in 2011: Sales and earnings up strongly thanks to outstanding technology and market leadership

editor, 10 August 2011

- Sales up 54.0 % at EUR 428.6 million, operating profit climbs 57.2 % to EUR 53.2 million

- Solar Cell & Module division returns EBIT margin of 21.4 %

- Full-year sales and earnings forecast for 2011 confirmed

The technological strengths of centrotherm photovoltaics AG have once again proven their worth in the first half of 2011. In the first six months the world’s leading supplier of equipment and technology to the photovoltaics sector increased its sales by 54.0 % to EUR 428.6 million (H1 2010: EUR 278.3 million). At the same time, consolidated operating profits (EBIT) were up 57.2 % at EUR 53.2 million (H1 2010: EUR 33.9 million). The EBIT margin came in at 12.4 % (H1 2010: 12.2 %). The Solar Cell & Module division accounted for the lion’s share of the company’s success, contributing around 89 % of sales with an EBIT margin of 21.4 % (H1 2010: 23.4 %). Consolidated earnings in the first half were up 63.3 % at EUR 37.4 million (H1 2010: EUR 22.9 million). As a result, earnings per share climbed 63.9 % to EUR 1.77 (H1 2010: EUR 1.08). The equity ratio amounted to 44.7 % (December 31, 2010: 49.2 %). The return on capital employed (ROCE) rose to 29.8 % (H1 2010: 26.5 %).

“In the first six months of this year, we have profited from strong demand which is clearly reflected in our Group figures,” commented Dr. Thomas Riegler, CFO of centrotherm photovoltaics AG. “Sales were driven predominantly by single systems which accounted for 86.1 % of sales revenues – that‘s more than four fifths – especially in the Solar Cell & Module segment.” Sales revenues generated by the service and replacement parts business in the first half of 2011 climbed 79.7 % to EUR 17.0 million (H1 2010: EUR 9.5 million). This business is scheduled for further development in future.

Development by segments

In the first half of 2011, the Silicon & Wafer segment was determined by technological developments and non-recurrent effects, alongside the consistent implementing of projects, with several major projects being brought to completion at the same time. centrotherm photovoltaics achieved sales revenues of EUR 33.9 million through the sale of technology and plants for the production of silicon, thereby falling short of the high level posted a year ago (H1 2010: EUR 90.7 million). Segment EBIT came to EUR minus 15.8 million due to a comparatively low level of revenues coupled with non-recurrent expenses (H1 2010: EUR 7.8 million). Improvements in the result are to be achieved by the end of the financial year 2011 through a focused sales campaign and a cost efficiency program. Moreover, centrotherm photovoltaics anticipate a positive contribution to revenue and profit from the major project in Qatar in the second half of 2011. In addition, customers are currently placing increasing importance on integrated production lines and positioning themselves along the whole value chain. centrotherm photovoltaics therefore expects considerable revenue potential in the future, particularly from the Ingot & Wafering business. With this in mind, the photovoltaics specialist has strategically positioned itself through new products such as brick cropping and ingot squaring saws and upgrades to the current crystallisation furnaces. On June 30 this year, orders on hand in this segment stood at EUR 243.4 million (December 31, 2010: EUR 277.1 million).

The company achieved record results in the Solar Cell & Module segment: Sales revenues doubled to EUR 382.0 million (H1 2010: EUR 180.3 million). This segment contributed 89.1 % of consolidated turnover (H1 2010: 64.8 %). Operating profits (EBIT) were up 93.4 % at EUR 81.7 million (H1 2010: EUR 42.2 million), with an EBIT margin of 21.4 % (H1 2010: 23.4 %). At the end of the first six months orders on hand in the Solar Cell & Module segment stood at EUR 444.9 million (December 31, 2010: EUR 513.8 million).

In the Thin Film segment centrotherm photovoltaics generated sales revenues of EUR 12.7 million (H1 2010: EUR 7.2 million). Earnings (EBIT) developed in line with expectations, improving to a negative EUR 12.6 million (H1 2010: minus EUR 16.2 million), due in particular to the cost of the ongoing technological development of thin film systems. On June 30, orders on hand in this segment came in at EUR 27.0 million (December 31, 2010: EUR 52.9 million).

Order book and R&D

On June 30, 2011 the Group had orders on hand totaling EUR 715.2 million (December 31, 2010: EUR 843.8 million). Orders received in the first six months amounted to EUR 344.5 million (H1 2010: EUR 353.3 million). The number of employees on the qualifying date of June 30, 2011 stood at 1,899 (December 31, 2010: 1,448). This increase was primarily due to the increased volume of business and the first-time consolidation of the Group’s Chinese subsidiary in Shanghai. As a pioneer in the solar industry specializing in high-tech products, centrotherm photovoltaics invested a total of EUR 21.7 million (H1 2010: EUR 18.8 million) in research & development (R&D) in the first six months of 2011.

Outlook: Full-year sales and earnings forecast for 2011 confirmed

In a difficult market, the company is nevertheless aware that manufacturers of solar cells are experiencing a perceptible demand for high-performance cells and modules. In order to achieve high levels of efficiency they in turn require the latest technology, resulting in growing demand for upgrade packages from centrotherm photovoltaics. “Both the market in general and our customers in particular recognize our technological strengths and our competence all along the solar value chain. With this in mind we are confirming our forecast for financial year 2011 with sales rising to between EUR 690 and 710 million and an EBIT margin in the low double-digit range,” explained Robert M. Hartung, CEO and Management Board Chairman of centrotherm photovoltaics AG.

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centrotherm SiTec extends solar value chain to include two key plants for integrated solar production

editor, 13 July 2011

- Ingot squaring and brick cropping systems based on state-of-the-art diamond wire saw technology

- Equipment boasts high throughput, best product quality and low operating costs

- Sales potential in double-digit million euro range

With the introduction of ingot squaring and brick cropping equipment, centrotherm SiTec GmbH is expanding its range of products to include two key equipment items for integrated ingot and wafer production. The automated ingot squaring equipment saws the multi-crystalline ingots into bricks. The brick cropping equipment cuts these bricks to precise corresponding lengths. Wafers are later produced from these bricks. Both key equipment from centrotherm SiTec, a company in which the centrotherm photovoltaics Group bundles its silicon expertise, deploy state-of-the-art diamond wire saw technology. This ensures that highest-precision cuts are matched by maximum productivity and optimized production costs.

An ingot squaring equipment is set up for an annual capacity of up to 4,400 ingots, corresponding to annual production of around 110,000 bricks. The brick cropping equipment that operates two bricks in parallel reaches an annual capacity of around 40,000 bricks. Compared with the conventional slurry process, the particular strengths of these equipments include significantly higher production throughput, fully automated working processes, short loading and unloading times, and low space requirements thanks to their compact design and construction. The slurry process utilizes a mixture of liquid and silicon carbide to cut ingots and bricks.

"We are pleased with the strong interest in both of these equipments, which we presented to the global public for the first time at the Intersolar trade fair", commented Dr. Albrecht Mozer, Managing Director of centrotherm SiTec, a wholly-owned subsidiary of centrotherm photovoltaics AG. "Our customers and other interested parties were impressed by their excellent technology, their high throughput, product quality and – a factor that is especially important in an intensely competitive market – low operating costs. With the market launch of this new saw technology, centrotherm SiTec is expanding its product portfolio to include a significant element towards its position as a complete provider for the solar value chain." The annual sales potential for both equipments amounts to a double-digit amount in millions of euros.

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