Tokyo Electron to buy Oerlikon’s solar arm

March 06, 2012

Tokyo Electron, one of Japan’s leading semiconductor equipment suppliers, has agreed to buy the loss-making solar photovoltaic division of Switzerland’s Oerlikon Group. Oerlikon Solar offers turnkey manufacturing lines for thin film solar module mass production using amorphous silicon and tandem-junction technology.

Thin film solar has been meeting stiff headwinds driven by the massive scaling-up of polysilicon production to gigawatt level, the resulting steep price decline and increased competitiveness of crystalline silicon solar cell technologies.

Within the thin film field the market dominance of First Solar, using CdTe technology, has caused potential new entrants to defer market entry. Some existing turnkey thin film players went bankrupt, while others curtailed further capacity expansions, significantly limiting revenue streams for suppliers like Oerlikon.

Tokyo Electron’s well-established strength in Asian markets, together with the opportunities presented by combining its own semiconductor production equipment technologies with Oerlikon Solar's expertise, are the key factors behind the deal.

“The establishment of operations in the photovoltaic power generation business, that is anticipated to demonstrate continued development in the future, is one part of TEL's growth strategies, and we are also confident that we can contribute to the mitigation of global environmental issues in our role as a production equipment manufacturer," said Hiroshi Takenaka, president and CEO of Tokyo Electron.