The largest leading provider of equipments used to produce polysilicon and ingots, GT Solar, announced its intention to expand their business into the LED market. The company claims that they are currently in the process of working closely with select customers to test the sapphire crystallization systems before proceeding to mass production, which is estimated to take place in 2011.
The company said high-volume orders for the PV equipments reflect a healthy market condition for the solar wafer market. Taiwanese manufacturers like Green Energy Technology and Sino American Silicon Products Inc. reported cheerful news on their currently sold-out capacity. Green Energy Technology, a dedicated provider of ingots, happened to be the purchaser of GT Solar’s 2000th DSS furnace. Listed on NASDAQ for 7 years now, GT Solar introduced its first crystallization system, DSS240, in 2003. The original design has been advanced to the fourth generation, DSS450HP, over the past years. The latest model, DSS650, is undergoing final tests and estimated to be available on the market in early 2011. The newly developed furnace will provide a higher productivity of 600kg and thus increase the competitive advantage of the owner.
Jeffery Nestel-Patt, Director of Marketing and Communications at GT Solar, pointed out that the company has established a high market share for solar equipments and in mid-2010 cleared an acquisition of Crystal Systems, a crystalline growth technology company. Such strategic move has provided the company a competitive edge to tap into the LED market. Jeffery further stressed that the related new entrants in Asia will be their starting focus. The company sees Taiwan as a promising potential market where they are keen to pursue business opportunities.
Scott Kroeger, VP of Marketing at GT Solar, went on to explain how the company sees tremendous opportunities for the LED market. Market demand for LED will be driven by three waves of LED applications. The first wave was the backlighting for mobile devices followed by the second wave of backlighting for TV & computers, which is the current state of the LED market. The next wave of general illumination is believed to come in the foreseeable future and the timing could not be better for the company to start preparing for the projected explosion of demand for LED. The acquisition of Crystal Systems was a wise decision in hope to be able to explore opportunities in this particular market.
The company is a leading provider of solar equipments such as Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) reactors and related equipment used to produce polysilicon feedstock. The latest financial report shows 98% of total quarterly revenue came from Asia. GT Solar has operation centers in China and Taiwan and a regional headquarter in Hong Kong, serving customers throughout the region. Primary customers include OCI in South Korea, Trina Solar, LDK, EVERSOL, Sino American Silicon Products Inc. and Green Energy Technology.
GT Solar indicated that the LED market was estimated at 225 million U.S. dollars for 2010 and to grow at an annual compound rate of 27% to 426 million dollars by 2013. From the standpoint of a LED equipment provider within the value chain, market dominants like Aixtron, Veeco, and NTC have established and secured positions in sapphire slicing/finishing and MOCVD tools for LED manufacturing with their respective areas of expertise. Yet, the upmost stream of the value chain, namely sapphire substrate, lacks dominance from a major player and the company believes that is where they come in to take advantage of the market growth.