Centrotherm gets boost from REC order

German PV toolmaker Centrotherm has won an order to upgrade REC’s Singapore factory with diffusion furnaces for PV cells, in its first significant deal since shareholders formally approved its insolvency plan.

REC has already integrated one of Centrotherm’s “high-throughput” five-chamber diffusion furnaces into its integrated factory in Singapore, but will now “equip and upgrade” its entire 740MW line.

The order is in the “higher single-digit” million euro range.

Centrotherm’s “high-throughput” model is 15-25% more productive than its standard model, the company says.

Among the world’s leading suppliers of PV production equipment, and competitor of companies like Applied Materials and Meyer Burger, Centrotherm filed for bankruptcy protection last summer and asked its creditors to take a painful haircut.

Since then, orders have been thin on the ground for Centrotherm, with several notable exceptions, including a 300MW order for cell-production systems from the solar unit of Chinese industrial giant CECEP.

In late January, Centrotherm’s shareholders and creditors formally approved its insolvency plan, which will essentially convert creditors’ receivables into new company shares, and allow Centrotherm to remain stock listed.

Toolmakers are expected to face another difficult year or two as the broader PV industry’s consolidation phase winds down, and global demand gradually catches with industry-wide production capacity.