Solar Industry is one of the fastest growing industries on the planet and the number of companies in the industry have increased dramatically attracted by the strong growth prospects and low entry barriers. The easy availability of solar producing equipment and low capital requirements for small companies have led to a mushrooming of the number of players in the industry.
It is possible to set up a small 30 MW module production factory for as low an investment as $10 million or lower. Though the value add of a pure play solar panel production factory is low and the competitive position quite questionable nonetheless there are hundreds if not thousands of such small module producers in the world right now. Other parts of the crystalline silicon supply chain have also got a number of players though the technology and capital requirements are much higher. Listing out all the solar companies in the world is a difficult task and somewhat useless as well as many of these small scale solar companies will not exist in a few years as competition keeps intensifying. Consolidation in the solar industry will ensue sometime or the other and lead to a much smaller and sustainable industry.
Here is a list of Country-wise Solar Companies Globally:
1) OCI Chemical - This Korean chemicals company has seen the most spectacular rise in the poly business and has ambitions of becoming the No.1 player in 2012 overtaking both Wacker and Hemlock. Primarily targeting the solar market, the Korean company has plans of reaching 62,000 tons of polysilicon capacity at its plant in South Korea. Formerly known as DC Chemicals it started production only 3-4 years ago in partnership with Sunpower.
2) Hyundai Heavy Industries - South Korea’s Hyundai Industries which is known more for its cars, is also making a big push into the Green Energy Space. Like its South Korean peers, Hyundai is also preferring to enter this space through Solar Energy. Hyundai has already established a 320 MW cell capacity which it plans to double to 600 MW by early 2011 which would make it the largest South Korean manufacturer. Hyundai had earlier bought solar cell equipment from Germany’s Centrotherm as far back as 2008 and had entered a long term contract with LDK Solar for buying solar wafers as raw material for its cell lines. Its sister company KCC has started a 6000 ton polysilicon plant in South Korea. It is also targeting the US market with partnerships with companies like Raser Technology and Matinee Energy. It is also planning to set up a 240 MW solar power plant in partnership with Matinee Energy and LG.
3) LG - Korean Electronics Giant has also firmed up its plan in the Solar Energy Space. It is already selling solar modules in the South Korean and European markets and plans to have a 240 MW capacity by 2010 end. This will be rapidly expanded to a Gigawatt capacity by 2012.
4) Samsung - Semiconductor and Electronics Giant Samsung is entering into production of polysilicon setting up a 10,000 ton plant in an equal JV with US Poly Producer MEMC. The plant will be set up in South Korea and will go on stream by 2013. Samsung had recently started production solar crystalline silicon solar panels which uses polysilicon as raw material. Samsung has made major plans to enter the Green Industry in a big way. It has signed a multi-billion investment contract to build a huge offshore wind farm off Ontario and also plans to build solar plants.
5) POSCO - Posco, one of world’s largest steel producers has been trying to enter the solar market like its other Korean brethren. Posco’s energy unit is planning to set up a massive 300 MW Solar Plant in the USA along-with a US Developer Sustainable Energy Capital Partners (SECP). Note LG had earlier also said that it was planning to set up a huge solar plant in the USA.
6) Hanwha Chemicals – South Korean Conglomerate Hanwha subsidiary Hanwha Chemicals took a controlling 49.99% stake in Solarfun. Solarfun is the 4th largest Chinese company which has been executing well on a vertical integration strategy. The company has 900 MW of module capacity with 400-500 MW of wafer and cell capacity. Hanwha is also expanding into the polysilicon and system integration business.
7) Nexolon – The company is based out of South Korea and is closely associated with the polysilicon giant OCI Chemicals. The company is primarily counting on the growth of South Korean companies like LG, Hanwha, Samsung for its growth. The company is involved in making solar wafers.
1) 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 in-house while selling the rest to Asian customers mostly. Wacker is expanding in Germany and USA to keep its No.2 global position.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) 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.
5) 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.
6) 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.
7) 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 player.
8) 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.
9) Schneider Electric – This European Electrical Equipment Giant got into the solar inverter market by buying up Canadian Producer Xantrex.
Other companies are Centrotherm Photovoltaic AG, Roth and Rau, Meyer Berger, Manz Automation and ALD Vacuum Technologies.
1) Miasole – Miasole made a major splash announcing a record breaking 13.8% efficiency thin film module which it will ship in 2011. The company has also raised another $100 million in equity finance despite fall in its pre-IPO valuation to $550 million from $1.2 billion earlier. Seems an attractive target for a takeover.
2) Solyndra – Solyndra has been the most hyped startup in the crowded Solar Energy field and raised more than a Billion Dollars in Equity and Debt. Its proprietary CIGS cells on cylindrical tubes has been cited as path breaking American Research by US Administration. However the company has high costs and a slow ramp up.
3) Nanosolar – This secretive CIGs startup has big backers in the form of Google and others. The company is planning to build a massive plant in US but till now there has been little news about its commercial shipments, efficiency or costs. Remains to be seen if it manages to succeed or joins the long list of thin film deaths.
4) Abound Solar - Abound Solar which is a Cd-Te startup has also received a massive loan guarantee like Solyndra earlier. This money is going to be used to set up manufacturing facilities in Indiana and Colorado. Abound Solar has been heavily supported the the US Government’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and is in the process of starting a 200 MW plant in Colorado.
5) Ascent Solar – This US Based Company has a long history of making Thin Film Panels on Flexible Substances. The company is trying to survive against the onslaught of competition through strategic tie-ups with a number of companies around the world which will uses its Niche Technology.
6) Energy Conversion Devices – After First Solar, Energy Conversion Devices seemed the mostly likely viable company in Thin Film Technology. After a few quarters of profits in 2008, the company went into the red as its flexible a-Si modules failed to cut costs as fast as others. It has been shutting factories in the US and shifting to low cost locations. Still one of the biggest independent Thin Film Producers. Seems more likely that it will be bought out then survive independently.
7) General Electric - GE has invested in a Cadmium Tellurium Start-up Prime Solar which is ramping up production. Note Cd-Te is the same technology which is used by First Solar. GE has said that it has managed to attain 15% efficiency on commercial glass. Don’t know how much of it is true since First Solar only manages around 12% efficiency despite around 10 years of dedicated R&D. However if GE can even manage to get near to that level then it would surely give First Solar a run for its money. GE has also tied up with Japanese Solar Frontier to market its CIGs based modules survival.
8) SunEdison/MEMC – US Polysilicon and Wafer Producer MEMC bought Sunedison which was one of the largest solar installers in 2008. Now MEMC is strongly expanding the system installation business not only in the US but other parts of the world like India, Europe, Korea, Canada and other places. The company recently installed one of the biggest solar plants in the world in Rovigo, Italy.
9) Sunpower – Sunpower is a vertically integrated solar energy company known more for its highest efficiency solar panels. The company bought Powerlight a few years ago to enter the solar systems market and has bolstered the business constantly to become a major global installer. Sunpower is present in all 3 segments of the solar systems business namely a) residential b) commercial and c) utility. It is one of the largest US installers and has recently won a number of large utility contracts for building solar farms.
10) First Solar – First Solar is the largest producer of solar panels in the world using its proprietary thin film technology. The company is also one of the biggest utility solar system developer in the world focusing mainly on the North American Market. The company has built and sold the world’s largest solar farms in Sarnia, Ontario.
11) Sungevity - Sungevity is a California company targeting the residential market through a solar leasing plan. It extensively uses the Internet to design the system and has a JV with US Bank to provide financing to its customers.
12) SolarCity - SolarCity is a full-service solar provider for commercial and residential customers and does solar power system design, financing, installation and monitoring services from a single source. SolarCity is introduced a new solar lease option, called SolarLease. It also has other options like PPA .The company’s footprint extends to Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington D.C.
13) SunRun – SunRun is one of the newer solar installation and solar financing companies that target the residential market mainly. The company is present mainly in the Western part of USA operating in 7 states Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The company uses a PPA model to sell solar systems and has partnered with a number of pure play solar installers.
14) Akeena/Westinghouse Solar (WEST) - The first US Solar Installer to list on the US Stock Exchange, the company’s operations are based mainly in California. The company also sells solar systems through retail outlets which was a first. The company also has a unique solar system which reduces solar installation costs called Mandalay.
15) Real Goods Solar (RSOL) – The second US Solar Installer to list on the Stock exchange, Real Goods Solar is present in California and Colorado and it targets the residential and commercial segments of the market.
16) Verengo Solar - The company also provides solar financing solutions and is present in the California market.
17) Borrego Solar - The company is similar to Verengo Solar but mainly concentrates on the commercial market. The company signed a deal with Chinese solar panel producer Yingli for procuring solar panels. The company is headquartered in California like most others.
18) Power-One - The US power management company has shown the fastest growth in 2010 and has increased its marketshare to around 13% to become the No.2 global player. Power-One is mainly concentrated in Europe and is now expanding to Asia and its home market of USA.
19) Satcon - Satcon is similar to Power-One but has not grown as fast nor does it have the high margins of its bigger competitor. It is strong in the US utility market and is growing its operations there. Like Power-One shifting its manufacturing.
20) Advanced Energy – AEIS which is a US semiconductor company is also a big manufacturer of solar inverters. It stands to benefit from the future growth of the Solar Market in the US.
21) Hemlock Semiconductor (HSG) - This a a privately held company which is a JV between Shin-Etsu Handotai, Dow Corning and Mitsubishi. Hemlock has the largest poly production capacity in the world and has been trying to rapidly raise capacity to meet growing solar demands. However it has not grown fast enough.
Other companies are Applied Materials, Evergreen Solar, Emkore, GT Solar and STRI.
1) Moser Baer – This is primarily a Solar Panel Production Company which has recently made a big bet to get into the Power Production Space as well. Moser Baer Projects Private in which the Blackstone Group made a $300 million bet has plans of a 20:80 mix of Green and Dirty Power.
2) Solar Semiconductor - A Producer of Solar Power Modules and Cells. It has some operations in Solar Installation as well.
3) Lanco Solar – A major private utility in India.Has bagged a JNNSM bid to build a big solar thermal plant. Also getting into production of poly, wafers, cell and modules based on c-Si Technology.
4) BHEL – BHEL which is India’s largest Capital Good makers is the other company with the big solar ambitions. BHEL has strong capabilities in the field of making electricity generating equipment. Extending these capabilities in the field of solar power generation is a natural extension.
5) BEL – This is another state owned company established by the Indian Government to meet the specialised electronic needs of the Indian defense services. The company produces consumer products like Solar Powered LED-Based Traffic Signal Lights. Tying up with BHEL to set up a big solar equipment producing facility.
There are other companies similar to Solar Semiconductor in terms of having a small capacity to produce silicon based solar cells or solar panels or both - IndoSolar, Topsun Solar, Titan Energy, PLG Power, Maharishi Solar, Kotak Urja, Photon Energy Systems.
1) Suntech – Suntech 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 marketshare 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.
2) Yingli Green Energy - Yingli Green Energy 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.
3) Trina Solar – Trina Solar 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 marketshare. 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.
4) Hanwha Solar One - The Company which was recently acquired by South Korean Chemicals Giant Hanwha also makes one of the cheapest panels and sells it a very low price. The quality is also quite good and with strong parentage behind it, the solar panels made by the company. Again like Trina Solar,it has very low cost Chinese manufacturing capacity. The company was earlier known as Solarfun.
5) Canadian Solar – The Company sells a wide variety of solar panels unlike other producers. The Solar Panel Selling Price is also quite cheap. The Company is headquartered in Canada with factories in China and Ontario. Canadian Solar is the 5th biggest producer of Solar Panels in China.
6) 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. LDK Solar is building a huge solar panel and cell production facility. It sells Solar Panels mostly to other Solar Panel Companies.
7) 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. Like LDK Solar, Renesola sells most of its Solar Panels under an OEM Contract.
8) Jinko Solar – Jinko Solar 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.
9) Trony Solar - Trony Solar is the largest Solar Thin Film Producer in China and uses a-Si Technology to producer Solar Panels used mostly in Off-Grid Applications. The company uses its own custom made equipment and manages to get decent margins for its products. The company recently listed on the HK Stock Exchange.
10) GCL Poly – Has become one of 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.
Other companies are Egwing, Singyes Solar, Linuo, Hanglong, Shunda, Asia Silicon and BYD Solar.
1) Gintech – This Taiwanese company has become the biggest solar cell producer in the country overtaking Motech. The company continues to expand aggressively as it uses its high quality to win more contracts from Japanese and European customers.
2) Neo Solar - This is one of the fastest growing companies in Taiwan and has focused on solar cells. It has managed to grow revenues and shipments despite tough competition from domestic as well as international competition.
3) Del Solar - This company is another Taiwanese one with big operations in solar cells like the others. The company is also a new one like Neo Solar and has given strong competition to others like Motech.
4) E-Ton – This Taiwanese Solar Cell Producer used to be one of the biggest pre 2008, however currently it faces huge headwinds. The company faces financial problems from a US acquisition that went wrong. It was on the verge of selling itself to Foxconn but the deal did not went through.
5) SolarTech - SolarTech is one of the biggest producers of solar cell producers in Taiwan and has managed to grow at a rapid pace like Neo Solar and Gintech. The company has formed a JV with SAS to producer solar wafers.
6) Motech – The company which used to be a pure play cell producer has expanded into polysilicon, modules and wafers. It is one of the oldest solar cell companies in Taiwan and faced tough times in 2008 post the GFC. TSMC owns a stake in this company. The company bought a solar module facility in the US and is starting polysilicon production at its subsidiary AES Polysilicon.
7) TSMC - TSMC has been a late entrant into the solar energy market but is making much smarter moves than its Taiwanese peers. It bought a 20% stake in Motech (Taiwan’s oldest and largest solar cell company) for $192 million. It bought this stake at an opportune time when the stock prices of solar companies are trading at trough valuations. Its $50 million stake buy in Khosla backed unlisted CIGS startup Stion is another smart investment. Stion is looking to partner with major semi companies for manufacturing and TSMC which is the world’s largest foundry is an ideal partner. TSMC has started a new JV with Green Energy Technology (GET), Taiwan’s only Polysilicon Producer to start a production facility which would make solar wafers. GET will own 40% of the new company as it possesses the expertise in producing solar wafers.
8) AUO – AUO is one of the world’s leading LCD panel manufacturers with most of its manufacturing facilities located in Taiwan. AUO has a JV with SunPower’s to build 1.4 gigawatt third solar cell fabrication facility in Malaysia. SunPower and AUO will equally own the JV and contribute equal capital funding. AUO is also building cell and module plants in Taiwan as well. It recently claimed the world’s most efficient solar panel with 19.5% efficiency. AUO has also bought M.Setek a large Japanese producer of polysilicon and wafer making it a vertically integrated player in a short time. AUO recently displayed the world’s most efficient solar module. The company also released a solar powered notebook.
9) 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.
10) 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.
11) Taiwan Polysilcon (TPSI) – is the only company in Taiwan which produces the raw material for c-Si Solar Panels. The company recently started operations at its 8000 tons polysilicon plant. This plant will be ramped up to as high as 28000 tons in the future. Note TPSI is a JV between LED producer Everlight Electronics and Chemicals company Lee Chang Yung Chemical Ind Corp.
12) Delta Electronics – Taiwanese Giant Electronics Firm entered the solar inverter market by buying up the Inverter Division of German Solar Company Solon. The company has production facilities in Taiwan and is setting up a production base in Chennai to capitalize on the Solar Inverter Opportunity. Delta is also expanding in countries like Singapore and Germany to take advantage of the the growth in Green Industry.
13) Giga Solar Materials – is one of the world’s leading producer of silver conductive pastes used as positive electrodes of solar batteries.
Other Solar Producers are Mosel Viteltic, Big Sun, Tainergy, Sunrise, Sun-Q, Top Cell, TGE, Ever Energy, Danen Technology, Eversol, Wafer Works, PCM, Eaton and Alberex.
1) Sharp - Sharp, the Japanese Zaibatsu known more for its Electronics Products is also the world’s No 1 Company in terms Solar Module Revenues. Sharp has been the solar world leader since the past 4-5 years despite stiff competition recently from upcoming Chinese Crystalline Solar (c-Si) players and Thin Film Leader First Solar.
Sharp’s c-Si division is not cost competitive with the Chinese and Taiwanese companies as its cost structure is almost 30-40% higher than the cheapest Chinese producers. Though the quality of Sharp’s crystalline silicon modules is considered much better, the cost difference has become too big in a rapidly commoditizing industry.
While companies like Masdar are abandoning their Thin Film plans, Sharp has started shipping a-Si modules from its 1 GW capacity plant in Sakai. With its established distribution strengths and technological abilities in LCD Technology, Sharp is one company that can survive the c-Si onslaught.
2) Sanyo-Panasonic – Sanyo plans to invest more than 70% of its total investment over the next 3 years in its renewable energy and energy storage segments. Sanyo has never been as successful in the hyper competitive electronics market as other Japanese companies like Sony or Sharp. However its lithium batteries and solar panels possess cutting edge technology. Its solar panels with proprietary HIT technology rival the best in terms of efficiency and quality.
Panasonic after acquiring Sanyo has completely changed its strategy to become a major Green Player targeting a Major Percentage of Sales in the future to come from Green Products. Panasonic which is the world’s biggest Plasma TV producer is going to spend $1 Billion on Green Building investments. Panasonic will combine its Green Strengths with Sanyo’s to sell a complete Eco-Friendly Home complete with Solar Power, LED Lighting and Energy Storage and Efficiency capabilities. In Solar where Panasonic is the No.3 player in Japan behind Sharp and Kyocera, it is speeding up the expansion of solar capacity. It will spend more than $500 million aiming to triple its energy solutions business in Europe to 800 Million Euros by 2016.
3) Kyocera – Kyocera is Japan’s second largest solar panel producing company. The company recently won a major contract to build a solar farm in Thailand. Unlike other companies it has been slow off the blocks and unless it perks up its game, it is likely to become a even smaller company in the global scheme of things.
4) Mitsubishi – Mitsubishi is another old time Japanese solar company which has a low profile solar module and system business. The company is known for its high quality panels and has a decent presence in USA and Japan. However like Kyocera it has not been aggressive enough leading to loss in marketshare.
5) Mitsui - Mitsui Engineering and Shipping, one of Japan’s huge zaibatsus is planning a foray into the solar energy market as well. The Company is being supported in its initiative by METI which will collaborate with the Tunisian Government in setting up a combined gas solar hybrid plant.A 5 MW Solar CSP plant will be set up by 2013 to demonstrate the technology. The company also owns a solar system business in the US after acquiring Sunwize.
6) Toshiba – Toshiba the Japanese Giant known for its Global Leadership in Nuclear Power Equipment, Electronics and Memory Businesses has decided to become a big player in the Solar EPC business. This strategy is quite different from the other global conglomerates entering the Solar Energy Field. South Korean Players like Samsung, LG, Hanwha and Hyundai are all building Crystalline Silicon Modules. Toshiba wants to enter the Smart Grid business by leveraging its experience of the Solar EPC business. It is already in the process of building a 10 MW plant in Bulgaria and plans to generate around $2 Billion Dollars annually from US and Europe by 2015.
7) Honda – Honda, the Japanese auto giant has also joined the Solar Energy Race by selling Thin Film Modules based on CIGs technology. Japan’s conglomerates like Sharp, Kyocera, Mitsubishi and Panasonic already have big solar manufacturing operations with Sharp being the largest Solar Company in the World. Honda which has a small presence in the Solar Energy through its subsidiary Honda Soltec is expanding its lines of modules for the domestic market.
8) Solar Frontier - Solar Frontier is a subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu and is listed on the Japanese Stock Exchange. The Company has big plans for the Solar Energy Market planning to increase its capacity by more than 10 times in 2011 to around 1 Gw in total. All its 3 plants are located in Miyazaki in Japan and uses previous plasma plant of Hitachi. Solar Frontier claims 11.5% efficiency for its CIS modules which are expected to go upto 14% by 2014. It has signed a distribution deal with GE to sells its Copper Indium Selenide (CIS) Panels in USA.
9) Tokuyama - This Japanese producer has been in the game for long but has been the slowest in expanding capacity. Its building a new plant in Malaysia but its capacity has been dwarfed by newer players in Asia like OCI Chemicals. It has missed out on a huge opportunity. The company mainly supplies to semi wafer companies.