German’s Solar Energy Market is the biggest in the world by a fair margin.Germany installed almost 6 gigawatts of solar panels in 2010 taking the total installed capacity to almost 16 GW which is 40% of the world’s total installed solar capacity.Note Germany’s Photovoltaic Solar Electricity now forms almost 10-15% of the total electricity production in the country at peak time.Note Germany’s solar industry got a renewed boost when 7 old nuclear plants were shutdown following Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Disaster recently.Previously Germany had decided to extend the operating life of its Nuclear Plants despite stiff opposition.Germany Solar Subsidy which is framed under the Renewable Energy EEG law has made Germany one of the world’s leaders in Wind,Solar and Biomass Energy.Germany’s Manufacturing Industry has benefited from the strong domestic market with many of the world’s top solar panel companies located there.Solar equipment,inverters and cell companies are also present in large numbers.Recently Germany amended its Feed in Tariff Law to slowdown the exponential growth in solar panel installations.This is over and above the regular reduction in solar subsidies done each year.
German Polysilicon Companies
Wacker Chemie– This German chemicals conglomerate as increased plant capacities rapidly in Germany and is expanding in the USA as well.Wacker has the majority of its profits coming from it nearly 25000 ton polysilicon capacity.It is one of the world’s major producers of semiconductor wafers as well so uses some of the poly inhouse while selling the rest to Asian customers mostly.Wacker is expanding in Germany and USA to keep its No.2 global position.
German Solar Panel Manufacturers
- 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 .However Solarworld is strongly expanding in USA as growth slows down in Germany.Solarworld is also entering the polysilicon sector through a JV with Qatar.Only Western company not to have a major factory in Asia.
- Q-Cells – The largest solar producer of cells in 2008 faced a horrendous 2009 running losses of as high as Euro 1 billion.After restructuring it has moved its factories to Malaysia and has diversified into solar modules and systems.The German company has seen its stock price drop more than 95% from the peak levels.It is using Flextronics as an outsourced module producer for its cells.The company has expanded into making Photovoltaic modules and systems.The company also makes thin film modules through its Solibro subsidiary.
- Bosch – This German Auto Giant has expanded into Solar Energy by buying up small German companies like Ersol and Aleo Solar.Bosch is now vertically integrated with operations in solar wafers,cells and panels.
- Schott – The German Glass Maker is a big component supplier to the CSP industry but does not provide a turnkey solution.Schott is also involved in the Solar PV Technology area producing both crystalline silicon panels as well as thin film panels.It recently established a JV with Chinese company Hareon and plans to build 700 MW of solar panel capacity in emerging markets around the world.It has won a contract to supply 20 MW of thin film modules to Indian Solar Company Premier Solar with 10 MW of supply in 2010 and 10 MW in 2011
There are a number of other German solar comapanies which have small capacities in making solar cells and solar panels like Solon,Solar Fabrik,Centrosolar etc.
German Solar Inverter Manufacturers
Germany still holds the leading position in manufacture of solar inverters despite losing the pole position in solar cell and solar panels to China.The high-tech nature of the inverter sector has made it harder for other companies to bridge the competitive advantages of German solar companies
- SMA Solar – The Big Daddy of the Solar Inverter Market with a 40% Marketshare of the Global Market.This Germany company has become the most valued solar company in Germany beating out the old stalwarts like Q-Cells and Solarworld.SMA Solar has managed to maintain its marketshare and grow as fast with the global solar demand unlike some of its competitors.SMA Solar faces tough times ahead as the growing inverter industry attracts numerous competitors and it remains to be seen whether it can avoid the fate of Q-Cells.
- Kaco New Energy – Like SMA,this is also a German company though privately held.It too benefited from the strong growth in German solar market in 2009 and 2010 to become a large players.It is has not grown as fast as SMA but is still a big players
- Fronius International – Very similar to Kaco in terms of its growth and being German.Fronius was a top 3 player in 2009 but has seen upstarts like Power-One take more marketshare
- Schneider Electric – This European Electrical Equipment Giant got into the solar inverter market by buying up Canadian Producer Xantrex.
German Solar Equipment Manufacturers
Germany has the biggest solar equipment industry supplying the tools and machinery needed for production of solar panels,cells and wafers.While USA has caught up with Germany in supplying the low cost Chinese solar producers,German equipment makers still are heavily present in the top 10.
The major solar equipment producers are
- Centrotherm Photovoltaic AG
- Roth and Rau
- Meyer Berger
- Manz Automation
- ALD Vacuum Technologies
Despite the low cost Chinese competition having heavily impacted the solar panel industry in Germany,other sectors like solar inverters,equipment have continued to flourish in Germany.SMA Solar is the biggest solar inverter in the world while Centrotherm is the 2nd biggest solar equipment maker.The German solar market has been the biggest reason for the growth of the global solar industry in the past decade.The progressive and stable German Solar Energy Subsidies have fostered both Renewable Energy and Green Industry and Jobs while a number of countries have messed up.
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