Emerging PV and MEMS markets poised for growth

by Phil LoPiccolo, Editor-in-Chief, Solid State Technology

Photovoltaics (PV) and micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) equipment and materials were singled out as emerging market growth leaders through the end of the decade by SEMI president and CEO Stan Myers, during a press conference on Monday detailing SEMI’s new consensus market forecast.

PV technology has captured a lot of attention recently in all parts of the world following the highly successful implementation of the technology over the past several years in Germany and Japan, Myers said. As a result, the market for PV equipment and materials, which totaled $3.7 billion worldwide in 2006, is forecasted to grow to $10.3B in 2010 (see image above). The predominant market driver for PV equipment will be in thin-film tools, as revenues for both cells and modules will grow from about $1.1 billion in 2006 to $4.9 billion in 2010. Meanwhile, the main driver for PV material growth will be in silicon, with revenues increasing from about $2.6 billion in 2006 to $5.4 billion by decade’s end.

The MEMS industry is undergoing several major changes, from the emergence of new consumer applications to the increase in manufacturing production among fabless and foundry companies, noted Myers. Currently, the MEMS equipment and materials market is relatively small, with combined sales last year totaling just under $1.1B, about $650 million for equipment and about $430 million for materials (see image below), he explained, but these markets are expected to experience strong growth, topping $1.6 billion by the year 2010.

One interesting aspect of the MEMS market, Myers noted, is that although the majority of new semiconductor fab construction is in the Asia-Pacific region, more than half of all current MEMS manufacturing capacity is in North America, driven by the two largest MEMS companies: Texas Instruments and Hewlett-Packard. Yet that could quickly change, he said, pointing out analysts’ predictions that a number of 200mm Asian fabs slated for obsolescence might be converted to MEMS production to meet the increasing demand. — P.L.

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