Global Solar Panel Production Grows: The Top 15 Manufacturers to Benefit

by: SustainableBusiness

Global photovoltaic (PV) solar panel production will eclipse 15 gigawatts (GW) this year according to a new market report. While subsidy cuts in key markets will lead to slower growth in 2011 and beyond, panel production will still exceed 25 GW by 2013, analysts at GTM Research said. At the same time, increasing competition between suppliers will lead to panel prices of less than $1/watt by 2012 for select technologies.

"Over the past 18 months, we have witnessed the global PV industry become more complex and dynamic than ever before,” said Shyam Mehta, the report’s author and a Senior Solar Analyst at GTM Research. “The supply chain has been bombarded with opportunities from scaling demand, and the industry has responded to this competitive dynamic with new, low-cost technologies and more sophisticated business models.”

The industry’s increase in production capacity is also spurring global price competition between PV technologies. Solar energy co. First Solar boasted thin film panel costs of less than $1/watt in early 2010. Now the report PV Technology, Production and Cost Outlook: 2010–2015 forecasts the industry will reach its next economic milestone by 2012, when panel prices for the retail market will themselves fall below $1/watt.

“Our global pricing analysis projects higher-cost panel producers to come under significantly more pressure in 2011 as PV continues to become more commoditized and low-cost manufacturers such as First Solar and top-tier Chinese firms add more capacity,” said Mehta. “Whether it be through product differentiation, contract manufacturing, technology innovation, or vertical integration, higher-cost producers will have to develop differentiated business models to stay alive in the long term.”

As assessed in the report, the top 15 most successful firms in terms of panel production, manufacturing costs, efficiency, and bankability by 2013 are ranked below:

  1. First Solar (FSLR U.S.)

  2. Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL) (China)

  3. Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE) (China)

  4. Suntech Power (NYSE: STP) (China)

  5. REC (REC.OL) (Norway)

  6. Astronergy (China)

  7. Solibro GmbH (Germany)

  8. LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK) (China)

  9. SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWRA) (U.S.)

  10. Solar Frontier (5002.T)(Japan)

  11. Sharp (OTCPK:SHCAY) (6753.T in Japan)

  12. Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ) (China)

  13. EGing Photovoltaic Technology (China)

  14. Abound Solar (U.S.)

  15. Solarfun (Nasdaq: SOLF) (China)

Disclosure: No positions