Intevac reports massive ion implant tool order

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Someone in China is setting up a very large factory for high-efficiency solar cells.

Today Intevac reported an order for 12 of its ENERGi ion implant systems by an un-named customer in China, which will enable a more than 1 GW expansion of solar cell capacity. The California-based tool maker has identified that this is the same Chinese customer that ordered two systems in 2016, which were shipped in the second half of the year.

While Intevac’s ion implant systems are part of its Thin Film business, the company has revealed that these tools will be used to enable higher efficiencies in the Chinese PV maker’s bi-facial n-type monocrystalline silicon PV cell production. And while more details about the technology to be supported were not available, this will be a significant expansion for bi-facial n-type mono cell capacities. N-type mono cells were only 5% of the global PV cell market in 2016, according to the latest edition of the German Engineering Federation’s (VDMA) International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics.

These 12 ENERGi systems are scheduled to ship in the second half of 2017, and Intevac says that revenue recognition will be dependent upon the timing of customer sign-off. The company will provide an update to its revenue guidance during its first-quarter results call scheduled for May 1, 2017.