US-European vs. Chinese PV Module Manufacturing Market

Low manufacturing costs of PV components and modules in China leads to a higher competition for the European and American solar panel markets.  We’re looking at these three regions in particular because they currently rank highest in production and consumption of PV modules and the electricity they produce.  Germany ranks highest in their use of solar power due to high quality panels and good governmental policies such as Feed-in tariffs (FiT).  Modules using silicon crystalline cells, which are the most efficient, above thin film and wafers, are typically the most costly.  However, Chinese-based companies are now producing the high efficiency crystalline solar panels creating market influence and competition for more expensive European manufacturers.

Who are the leading American Manufacturers?

SunPower (http://us.sunpowercorp.com/), a California based company, produces the highest efficiency crystalline solar panels in the world.   They also provide intermediary services that acquire modules from manufactures to installation on the ground, or roofs.  GreenBrilliance (http://www.greenbrilliance.com/) is another one of these companies that is based in Herndon, VA and operates its manufacturing subsidiary in India and provides long-term service and maintenance to the installed modules. These companies are just two of the several end-to-end alternative energy service providers in the US. A company without downstream services and mainly solar cell and module production includes Suniva (http://www.suniva.com/).  Based in Atlanta, GA, they manufacture high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells (the ARTisun® series) and high powered solar modules, which consist of Suniva’s core cell technology.  Suniva is producing the world’s lowest cost, highest cell conversion efficiency commercially available. Suniva is the only high-efficiency, low-cost silicon cell manufacturer in America, with exports of more than 80% of its production to Europe and Asia.

Who are the leading European Manufacturers?

Solarworld (http://www.solarworld.de/) is the Biggest German producer of solar panels, the company is one of the few to still have operations in Europe and USA. The company has been battered by low cost competition.  However, Solarworld is strongly expanding in USA as growth slows down in Germany.  They are also the only Western company not to have a major factory in Asia.

German company Schott Solar (http://www.schottsolar.com/) develops, manufactures, and markets highly efficient receivers, a key component for Concentrated Solar Power plants with parabolic trough technology, as well as innovative, high-quality photovoltaic products. With crystalline solar wafers, solar cells, solar power modules, and a-Si thin film modules, SCHOTT Solar provides core components in every step of the value chain for the photovoltaic generation of energy.

Who are the leading Chinese Manufacturers?

China has become a global manufacturing hub for PV components. The country is the largest silicon producer and accounted for around 31% of the global production capacity of silicon in 2009 and 2010. LDK Solar and GCL Poly are the major polysilicon producers in China with a production capacity of 11,000 MT and 21,000 MT respectively. (RenewableEnergy:http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/print/article/2011/02/solar-photovoltaic-pv-supply-chain-global-market-size-and-company-analysis-of-polysilicon-wafers-pv-cells-and-solar-pv-modules-to-20151).

Abhishek Shah from GreenWorldInvestor.com gives a good idea of how solar companies are competing against one another in the market.  Here are a few of his suggestions of the biggest and the best Chines-based companies:

Suntech – Suntech (http://www.suntech-power.com/) was the world’s biggest producer of solar panels in 2010 and was one the first companies to set up operations in China. Its example was followed by a host of other Chinese companies.  Suntech has been slow to expand compared to the fast growing small companies in China and has lost market share to them. It has started to vertically integrate in order to meet the low cost challenge from Trina and Yingli. Suntech makes one of the best quality Solar Panels in China.

Yingli Green Energy – Yingli Green Energy (www.yinglisolar.com/) is one of the oldest Chinese companies and is completely integrated from polysilicon.  The company has been expanding rapidly and has one of the lowest cost structures in the industry.  Yingli Green Energy has been sponsoring Football in Europe and has started a new line of high efficiency “Panda” Solar Panels.  Yingli is the second biggest producer of Solar Panels in China.

Jinko Solar – Jinko Solar (http://www.jinkosolar.com/) has shown the fastest growth rates in the Chinese Solar Panel Industry. The company is expanding again to become one of the Top 5 Solar Panel Producers in China.  Jinko Solar like Trina and Yingli is vertically integrated and has one of the lowest cost solar panel production process.

Trina Solar – Trina Solar (http://www.trinasolar.com/)is one of the lowest cost manufacturers of Solar Panels in the World right now and also sells it at a very low price. This is the reason that the company in a span of few short years has managed to acquire a substantial global market share.  The prices the solar panels being sold are around $340 per 200 watt module.  Like Yingli and Suntech, Trina Solar Panels are one the best quality in China (GreenWorldInvestor: http://greenworldinvestor.com/2011/03/29/solar-panel-manufacturers-guide-to-the-biggest-and-best/)

These are a few of the key players in the PV Module production and manufacturing market.  Read here about how lower-cost solar panels from China are affecting European PV markets (http://www.solarindustrymag.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.5632).

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