Centrotherm Group

centrotherm photovoltaics presents 2010 preliminary figures showing marked revenue and earnings growth

editor, 23 February 2011

- Revenue rises 22.6 percent to EUR 624.2 million

- EBITDA up by 72.9 percent to EUR 101.3 million

- EBIT doubles to EUR 75.4 million

- Revenue rises 22.6 percent to EUR 624.2 million

centrotherm photovoltaics AG benefited significantly from last year's boom in new orders in the solar sector, and has achieved record results in the 2010 financial year according to preliminary figures. Revenue grew 22.6 percent to EUR 624.2 million (2009: EUR 509.1 million). Total operating performance increased to EUR 681.2 million (2009: EUR 536.0 million). Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew from EUR 58.6 million to EUR 101.3 million, representing a 16.2 percent EBITDA margin on revenue (2009: 11.5 percent). Operating earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) doubled to EUR 75.4 million (2009: EUR 37.2 million), equivalent to a 12.1 percent EBIT margin (2009: 7.3 percent).

"The figures show that we were optimally prepared for the solar boom with our innovative strength, state-of-the-art production systems, and excellent customer service", commented Dr. Thomas Riegler, CFO of centrotherm photovoltaics AG. "In particular, we further expanded our high market share in the Solar cell & Module segment. We anticipate that business will continue to run successfully in 2011."

High order book position and record new order intake

Despite adjustments to the order book, the order book position appreciated to EUR 843.8 million as of the year-end (2009: EUR 797.4 million). Due to a very robust trend in new orders of EUR 1,049.8 million received in the 2010 financial year, new orders breached the EUR 1 billion mark for the first time – thereby setting a new record in the company's history.

centrotherm photovoltaics has made a confident start to the new business year, and its equipment orders on hand mean that that the company will enjoy capacity utilization until well into 2011. The company continues to benefit significantly from orders from the Asian region in this context. "In a highly competitive market that has reached mass production, we deliver significant competitive advantages for our customers through first-class technology and production systems", explained Robert M. Hartung, centrotherm photovoltaics AG CEO. "This allows our customers to realize lower operating costs, and to expand their cost leadership."

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centrotherm photovoltaics focuses on greater efficiency in the solar value chain with further improvements in its systems on show at SNEC in Shanghai

editor, 22 February 2011

- Premiere for "c.NITE Inline" nitride coating system

- New "c.FIRE" fast firing furnace especially maintenance-friendly

- Key equipment reduces cost of ownership

centrotherm photovoltaics AG is presenting new products and product updates at this year's 5th International Solar Industry and Photovoltaic Exhibition & Conference in Shanghai (SNEC) that further boost efficiency along the solar value chain. Lower operating costs allow customers of the globally leading technology and equipment provider for the photovoltaic sector to enhance their competitiveness. SNEC in Shanghai (February 22 – 24, 2011) is regarded as one of the most important trade fairs and conferences this year in the photovoltaic sector.

Solar cell & Module product update

The Solar cell & Module division is showing two new top products in public for the first time: with its "c.NITE Inline" nitride coating system and the "c.FIRE" fast firing furnace, the photovoltaic specialists from South Germany are presenting a new cost-efficient generation of key equipment for solar cell production.

With its "c.NITE Inline" in-line PECVD system that provides antireflective coating for solar cells, centrotherm photovoltaics has combined the advantages of the established batch PECVD system with in-line technology. The result is a nitride coating system that is unique on the market. Thanks to direct plasma separation, the system is distinguished particularly by excellent passivation characteristics and an extremely homogeneous coating thickness. Compared to other in-line technologies, the system achieves a significant efficiency enhancement amounting to around 0.2 percentage points for multi-crystalline wafers. Further advantages of the new "c.NITE Inline" system include higher throughput and longer uptime compared with other in-line technologies on the market. As is the case with batch processing, this tested plasma coating process occurs exclusively within compact process boats, thereby avoiding regular downtime for reactor chamber cleaning.

Additional key equipment for solar cell production includes the fast firing furnace in which front and rear contacts are burned into wafers at high temperature. The "c.FIRE" is the new version of the established fast firing furnace, and is distinguished by a compact and space-saving construction. Besides this "footprint", the photovoltaic experts from Blaubeuren have further optimized ease of installation and maintenance compared with its existing furnace in order to achieve additional reductions of cell manufacturers' operating costs. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that arise during the burning process were also taken into account: VOC treatment was fully integrated into the restructured housing, thereby enabling solvents that are emitted to be fed back on a reliable and energy-efficient basis.

According to market estimates, the global sales volume for furnaces across the sector this year amounts to a triple-digit figure in millions of euros.

Silicon & Wafer product update

centrotherm SiTec, in which the centrotherm photovoltaics Group bundles its silicon expertise, is presenting the already successful in the market introduced multi-crystalline ingot furnace. The high-performance furnace has an optimized hot zone, and is appropriate for capacity volumes of between 450 and 600 kg of silicon. Along with the flexibility, its particular strengths include a high productivity because of lower energy costs and process time as well as the high product quality. A further unique selling proposition is the high operating safety of the furnace. In future, centrotherm SiTec will also be offering the hydrochlorination process without STC-TCS converters for the production of polysilicon.

Roll-to-roll product update

With its "FHR.Roll.800" platform, FHR Anlagenbau, a wholly-owned centrotherm photovoltaics subsidiary, is presenting a new generation of roll-to-roll systems. This is a foil coating system for 800 mm-width plastic or metal foils. Compared with predecessor models, it allows foils more than two and a half times as wide to be coated. This system is appropriate for manufacturing flexible solar cells on a CIGS basis, for example. 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 where uneven surfaces are concerned. Put simply, the roll-to-roll process runs a plastic foil over a web drive with several rolls, and vacuum-coats it photovoltaically.

"We are presenting our innovative strength in all business areas at SNEC in Shanghai. We offer our customers state-of-the-art technology at every step along the solar value chain that allows them to achieve further efficiency enhancements in the production process”, commented Dr. Peter Fath, CTO of centrotherm photovoltaics. "Our aim is that our customers will be able to expand their premium cost leadership thanks to centrotherm technology."

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centrotherm photovoltaics focuses on greater efficiency in the solar value chain with further improvements in its systems on show at SNEC in Shanghai

editor, 17 February 2011

- Premiere for "c.NITE Inline" nitride coating system

- New "c.FIRE" fast firing furnace especially maintenance-friendly

- Key equipment reduces cost of ownership

centrotherm photovoltaics AG is presenting new products and product updates at this year's 5th International Solar Industry and Photovoltaic Exhibition & Conference in Shanghai (SNEC) that further boost efficiency along the solar value chain. Lower operating costs allow customers of the globally leading technology and equipment provider for the photovoltaic sector to enhance their competitiveness. SNEC in Shanghai (February 22 – 24, 2011) is regarded as one of the most important trade fairs and conferences this year in the photovoltaic sector.

Solar cell & Module product update

The Solar cell & Module division is showing two new top products in public for the first time: with its "c.NITE Inline" nitride coating system and the "c.FIRE" fast firing furnace, the photovoltaic specialists from South Germany are presenting a new cost-efficient generation of key equipment for solar cell production.

With its "c.NITE Inline" in-line PECVD system that provides antireflective coating for solar cells, centrotherm photovoltaics has combined the advantages of the established batch PECVD system with in-line technology. The result is a nitride coating system that is unique on the market. Thanks to direct plasma separation, the system is distinguished particularly by excellent passivation characteristics and an extremely homogeneous coating thickness. Compared to other in-line technologies, the system achieves a significant efficiency enhancement amounting to around 0.2 percentage points for multi-crystalline wafers. Further advantages of the new "c.NITE Inline" system include higher throughput and longer uptime compared with other in-line technologies on the market. As is the case with batch processing, this tested plasma coating process occurs exclusively within compact process boats, thereby avoiding regular downtime for reactor chamber cleaning.

Additional key equipment for solar cell production includes the fast firing furnace in which front and rear contacts are burned into wafers at high temperature. The "c.FIRE" is the new version of the established fast firing furnace, and is distinguished by a compact and space-saving construction. Besides this "footprint", the photovoltaic experts from Blaubeuren have further optimized ease of installation and maintenance compared with its existing furnace in order to achieve additional reductions of cell manufacturers' operating costs. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that arise during the burning process were also taken into account: VOC treatment was fully integrated into the restructured housing, thereby enabling solvents that are emitted to be fed back on a reliable and energy-efficient basis.

According to market estimates, the global sales volume for furnaces across the sector this year amounts to a triple-digit figure in millions of euros.

Silicon & Wafer product update

centrotherm SiTec, in which the centrotherm photovoltaics Group bundles its silicon expertise, is presenting the already successful in the market introduced multi-crystalline ingot furnace. The high-performance furnace has an optimized hot zone, and is appropriate for capacity volumes of between 450 and 600 kg of silicon. Along with the flexibility, its particular strengths include a high productivity because of lower energy costs and process time as well as the high product quality. A further unique selling proposition is the high operating safety of the furnace. In future, centrotherm SiTec will also be offering the hydrochlorination process without STC-TCS converters for the production of polysilicon.

Roll-to-roll product update

With its "FHR.Roll.800" platform, FHR Anlagenbau, a wholly-owned centrotherm photovoltaics subsidiary, is presenting a new generation of roll-to-roll systems. This is a foil coating system for 800 mm-width plastic or metal foils. Compared with predecessor models, it allows foils more than two and a half times as wide to be coated. This system is appropriate for manufacturing flexible solar cells on a CIGS basis, for example. 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 where uneven surfaces are concerned. Put simply, the roll-to-roll process runs a plastic foil over a web drive with several rolls, and vacuum-coats it photovoltaically.

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centrotherm photovoltaics shows excellent new order intake in fourth quarter of 2010 – high capacity utilization and confident outlook for 2011

editor, 27 January 2011

centrotherm photovoltaics AG, the globally leading technology and equipment supplier to the photovoltaics sector, has made a confident start to 2011. This perspective particularly reflects the gratifying order trend in the fourth quarter of 2010: new orders were up significantly, by 192 percent, to EUR 342 million (prior-year period: EUR 117 million).

Primary orders from Asia, particularly from China and Taiwan, contributed to this positive trend. Production systems to manufacture crystalline solar cells were in particular demand. Many existing customers, including premium cost leaders, made repeat purchases of key equipment such as tube furnaces for phosphorus diffusion (POCl3), and batch-type systems for the anti-reflective coating of solar cells (PECVD systems).

"Production across the entire centrotherm Group is running at full speed: given the good order book position, around 100 systems per month are to be dispatched in the future from the production halls at the Group's Blaubeuren headquarters. This represents a further marked increase compared with 2010: last year, production capacity already underwent a major expansion to up to 60 systems per month. Manufacturing capacities have been added to consistently as a result of the further optimization of production structures and processes, such as a flexible shift operation.

"Our products' technology and quality prove persuasive. That is why we look ahead to this year with confidence. Our sales team in the Asian region has already signed initial orders from major existing customers for the second half of 2011”, comments Dr. Thomas Riegler, CFO of centrotherm photovoltaics AG. "Many of our customers would like to extend their cost-leadership, are topping up their production capacities, and are focusing on centrotherm's advanced, leading edge. This year, we will continue to benefit from this trend, which has already been underway for several months.".

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centrotherm photovoltaics achieves 18.5 percent average efficiency with selective emitter technology in the production line of Chinese customer Dongfang Magi Solar

editor, 20 January 2011

- Outstanding cell performance above industry average based on upgrade package

- Successful transfer of laboratory results in mass production

- Negotiations underway to refit all production lines with selective emitter laser doping



Blaubeuren. January 20. 2011 - centrotherm photovoltaics AG has successfully transferred excellent laboratory results to production operation at the Chinese customer Dongfang Magi Solar: an average 18.5 percent efficiency was achieved on batches totaling some thousands of solar cells made from mono-crystalline matenal on a standard 156 x 156 mm (240 cm*) surface These high figures for solar cells made of mono-crystalline material were achieved using an upgrade package for selective emitter technology and exceeded the current industrial average.

"Within a few weeks, we have realized in close co-work with our customer Dongfang Magi Solar the process adjustment and transfer from our R&D laboratory situation to mass production, and we will achieve this even more rapidly with further installations", comments Dr. Peter Path. СТО of centrotherm photovoltaics. "The upgrade packages enable our customers to further boost cell efficiency, as well as to manufacture on an even more efficient basis Along with the technology's ease of integration into the production process, the upgrade package solution is distinguished by low capital investment expenditures (capex)."

"We are very satisfied with the rapid implementation, and the good and stable efficiency results. With this new selective emitter technology and an average efficiency of 18.5 percent in mass production Dongfang Magi Solar will be one of the performance leaders in this industry”, notes Wen Zhang, CEO of Dongfang Electric Magi Solar Power Technology Co. Ltd. The parent company Dongfang Electric Corporation is one of the largest stateowned conglomerates in China. "We are currently in negotiation with centrotherm for further upgrade packages with the selective emitter technology for all our remaining production lines", CEO Zhang goes on to comment.

Laser diffusion allows for a selective emitter structure with low phosphorus doping on the entire upper surface of the cell, except for the points along the metallization. These improved emitter properties enable very good contacts, and high solar cell performance.

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centrotherm photovoltaics subsidiary FHR Anlagenbau receives major order for CIGS thin film solar cell production systems

editor, 17 January 2011

- Delivery of roll-to-roll coating technology to Solarion

- Central component of a 20 megawatt production system



FHR Anlagenbau GmbH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of centrotherm photovoltaics AG, has won a major order to supply several roll-to-roll coating systems to Leipzig-based Solarion AG. FHR Anlagenbau is a leading manufacturer of foil coating systems in the photovoltaics area. The systems will be shipped next year, and form a central component of a CIGS thin film solar cell production system with an annual capacity of 20 megawatts (MW). The order is worth a double-digit amount in millions of euros for FHR Anlagenbau, and will be entered in the order book as soon as corresponding prepayments have been made, in line with centrotherm photovoltaics' company policy. Solarion AG is planning to expand production to 180 MW at the Leipzig site together with strategic investor Walsin Lihwa Corporation from Taiwan.

"CIGS technology provides the highest efficiency potential in the photovoltaic thin-film area”, explains Dr. Peter Fath, CTO of centrotherm photovoltaics AG. The roll-to-roll process, where a plastic foil runs over a tape drive with several rolls, and is coated photovoltaically, also offers further advantages: "These flexible, light and unbreakable cells are also particularly suited to large industrial roofs, and applications such as the textile, automotive and aerospace industries." He goes on to comment that thin film solar cells generated using this roll-to-roll procedure are unrivalled with regard to curved surfaces.

FHR Anlagenbau GmbH and Solarion AG have already been jointly developing technologies and systems to produce extremely light and flexible CIGS thin film solar cells on plastic substrates since 2002. "The tremendous success of our many years of cooperation is reflected in the fact that, with the fourth generation of these foil coating systems, we are now taking the step into the mass production of flexible CIGS solar cells," was how Dr. Reinhard Fendler, Managing Director of FHR Anlagenbau GmbH, expresses his pleasure at the development.

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centrotherm photovoltaics boosts Group earnings by almost 50 percent to EUR 37.4 million in the first nine months of 2010

editor, 13 November 2010

- Revenue up by 22.3 percent to EUR 458.4 million

- EBIT leaps 52.7 percent to EUR 54.2 million

- New order intake of EUR 707.7 million



centrotherm photovoltaics AG is benefiting from the ongoing order boom in the solar sector, and announces strong figures for the first nine months of this year: the international technology and equipment provider for the photovoltaics sector boosted revenue by 22.3 percent to EUR 458.4 million (prior-year period: EUR 374.7 million). Consolidated operating profit (EBIT) improved by 52.7 percent to EUR 54.2 million (prior-year period: EUR 35.5 million). The photovoltaics specialist's EBIT margin increased to 11.8 percent (prior-year period: 9.5 percent). Consolidated net income also reported a marked increase (49.5 percent) during the first nine months of 2010 to reach EUR 37.4 million (prior-year period: EUR 25.0 million). With a 49.2 percent increase, earnings per share rose by almost one half to EUR 1.76 (prior-year period: EUR 1.18). An excellent 29.1 percent was achieved in terms of return on capital employed (ROCE), compared with 21.0 percent in the prior-year period.

"With these solid figures, we are underscoring our attractive business model once again", comments Dr. Thomas Riegler, CFO of centrotherm photovoltaics AG. "Over the past nine months, we have benefited from an outright order boom, particularly in the Solar Cell & Module segment, and we have further expanded our market share. As a market leader that has committed itself to the permanent further development of highly efficient production systems for polysilicon, solar cells and modules, we remain on a profitable growth path, and we look with confidence to the months ahead."

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centrotherm pv wins tender for multi-crystalline ingot furnaces in China

editor, 20 September 2010

- Customer expands photovoltaic value chain with centrotherm SiTec technology and equipment

- Around EUR 50 million of sales potential in the crystallization and wafer area will be expected by 2011

centrotherm SiTec GmbH, a one hundred percent subsidiary of centrotherm photovoltaics AG, has prevailed over renowned competitors to win a tender to supply several multi-crystalline ingot furnaces to a prominent Chinese company. The furnaces will be shipped in the first quarter of 2011. The first silicon ingots will be produced just six weeks later. The investment volume is in the single-digit euro million range. "This success confirms our strategy of focusing on efficient processes along the entire photovoltaic value chain," commented Dr. Albrecht Mozer, Managing Director of centrotherm SiTec. "It allows our existing customer to access a further step in the solar value chain, and integrates crystallization with a polysilicon project that centrotherm SiTec has already successfully realized." The client has also ordered further polysilicon production systems in order to expand its existing capacities.

Along with reactors and converters, multi-crystalline ingot furnaces comprise key silicon production equipment. In the multi-crystalline ingot furnace, polysilicon particles are initially smelted in a quartz crucible at over 1,450° Celsius. The silicon melt is subsequently converted into multi-crystalline ingots by a process of directional solidification. Bars and wafers are then cut from these crystallized silicon blocks, before being processed to produce solar cells and modules.

The integration of polysilicon production and crystallization at one location allows significant manufacturing cost savings of around 10 percent to be realized. centrotherm SiTec identifies around EUR 50 million of revenue potential in the crystallization and wafer area by 2011 for the centrotherm photovoltaics Group.

Blaubeuren

Positive outcome for centrotherm photovoltaics at EU PVSEC in Valencia

editor, 16 September 2010

- Advanced contract negotiations with well-known customers

- Major interest in ISE-certified solar cells with 19.1 percent efficiency, and in the 24 Pair CVD reactor

Due to a good response from customers, centrotherm photovoltaics AG reported a positive outcome from the 25th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) in Valencia, which ended a few days ago. "This trade fair proved worthwhile for us. We conducted conversations with the largest manufacturers, and we are in advanced contract negotiations with well-known companies", comments Dr. Peter Fath, Management Board member responsible for Technology and Marketing at centrotherm photovoltaics AG, the world's leading supplier of equipment and systems manufacturer in the photovoltaics sector. "In terms of technology, we received very positive feedback on the selective emitter and the new centaurus rear side technology."

With its selective emitter and new centaurus rear side technology, the Solar Cell & Module division of the photovoltaics specialists from Blaubeuren are offering new efficiency records. Ahead of the EU PVSEC, the company announced that mean efficiencies of 19.1 percent had been achieved on normal industrial production systems for mono-crystalline silicon solar cells – and peak results of 19.2 percent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Europe's largest solar research institution, also certified this 19.1 percent efficiency.

Its Silicon & Wafer division, centrotherm SiTec, in which the centrotherm photovoltaics Group bundles its silicon expertise, garnered much attention for its 24 Pair CVD reactor with accompanying STC-TCS converter, which was presented for the first time at the EU PVSEC. All of the important companies within the sector were interested in the next generation of key silicon production equipment according to the company. The Multistep Power Cabinet (MPC) energy supply system for CVD reactors and STC-TCS converters, which was also newly launched, and which was jointly developed with Siemens, also encountered a positive response. The MPC's space-saving and modular structure differentiates itself from other energy supply systems through lower investment costs, and also in terms of time and cost savings during installation, commissioning and maintenance. The multi-crystalline ingot furnace that has been further optimized generated major interest, too.

The trade fair also proceeded very well for GP Solar, a one hundred percent centrotherm photovoltaics subsidiary. Leading sector producers were very interested in the newly developed thin film module inspection system that was presented for the first time in Valencia, according to GP Solar. The company went on to state that requests have already been submitted for initial tenders. The equipment allows the smallest defects to be identified already during production, thereby reducing waste.

FHR Anlagenbau, another one hundred percent centrotherm photovoltaics subsidiary, mentioned that it, too, had enjoyed a very successful trade fair response. The specialist machine builder for coating systems reported demand volume of more than EUR 20 million for thin film technology.

"Our strategy of concentrating on efficiency-enhancing technology updates along the photovoltaic value chain is proving worthwhile. It also allows existing customers to benefit from the use of new technology by expanding their capacities and reducing their manufacturing costs through efficiency gains", Dr. Fath goes on to add. Our aim is to further expand our customers' advantage with respect to cost-leadership and efficiency." He goes on to comment that one market trend at the EU PVSEC had been a demand for single equipment items to expand existing factories

Blaubeuren