Solar Wafer Companies are mainly concentrated in Asia specifically China and Taiwan.Cheap labour,lower land and capital costs as well as presence of major customers has made China the No.1 Solar Wafer Producer in the world.Despite most of the polysilicon being produced in Europe and USA,China leads the way in wafer production.Note semiconductor wafers in contrast are mainly produced in the developed countries like Japan,USA and Germany.The structural forces of the crystalline silicon industry is forcing vertical integration with cell producers making wafers and wafer production companies making cells.However there are a few companies which predominantly concentrate on supply solar wafers to solar cell manufacturers.Here is the list of the main solar wafer producers which have shown stunning growth in the last few years.
1) GCL Poly – This Chinese company has become one the biggest producers of polysilicon and wafers in 2010 from zero in 2008.Is expanding rapidly but not getting into production of solar cells and panels.The company is also on its way to becoming a Top 3 producer of polysilicon and is expanding by co-locating wafer plants near its customer factories.Has singed massive long term deals with most of the biggest solar panel producers in the world.
2) LDK Solar – This is the biggest producer of solar wafers that are used by crystalline solar panels but is losing its No.1 position to GCL Poly.Is expanding rapidly into other parts of the solar supply chain and could break into top 10 solar panel producer in the next couple of years.
3) Renesola – Very similar to LDK Solar in operations and structure,this Chinese company is the lowest cost producer of solar wafer producer in the world.It is expanding into other parts of the supply chain.
4) Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) – This Norwegian Producer was the largest solar wafer producer till a few years ago when it lost its leadership to the Chinese.It is now expanding in Singapore to reduce its high cost and integrating vertically.
5) Solarworld – Solarworld 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 .
6) Comtec Solar – It is a relatively less known Chinese producer of solar wafers however it has been expanding rapidly and is as big as Renesola in terms of capacity now.
7) Green Energy Technology – This Taiwanese producer of solar wafers has left other domestic competitors behind in capacity increase.Primarily supplies to the numerous solar cell makers in Taiwan
8) SAS – Sino American Silicon (SAS) is one of the oldest wafer producers in Taiwan and supplies to both semiconductor and solar industries.It has been growing steadily rather than expanding too aggressively.
9) MEMC- The only big American solar wafer producer is building a factory in Malaysia to reduce costs.The company is one of the biggest manufacturers of semi wafers.Like GCL Poly,it is also expanding into the solar systems business without getting into cell and module production
10) Nexolon – The company is based out of South Korea and is closely associated with the polysilicon giant OCI Chemcials.The company is primarily counting on the growth of South Korean companies like LG,Hanwha,Samsung for its growth.
Besides these solar wafer producers other significant producers are Trina Solar,Yingli,Suntech,Jinko Solar.These companies use solar wafers for their internal cell production.Other companies like JA Solar are also expanding wafer capacities in order to reduce their overall costs of producing solar panels.