Solar Power is rapidly increasing around the globe driven by falling prices of solar energy and increasing costs of electricity generated from coal,oil and gas.Besides governments are supporting renewable energy as it leads to increased energy security,less pollution and helps in reducing global warming.Solar Panels Costs have fallen rapidly in recent years falling to as low as $1/watt from $4/watt in 2008.This is due to increasing scale of manufacturing by Chinese producers of solar panels,improved technology and efficiency.While Solar Panel Installations have profilerated in Europe and even in Australia driven by state government rebates,they have not really taken off in New Zealand.
The reason is that the prices of solar panels are still higher here because the market is so small that volumes have not decreased the price yet.Major solar panel manufactures also don’t have distribution in New Zealand which means that only high cost solar panels are only available from companies like Mitsubishi and BP Solar which are niche players in the global arena.In fact BP Solar has stopped manufacturing solar panels and outsources the production to Asian companies.
However its a matter of time before bigger solar panel manufacturers start selling panels in NZ.The falling prices of panels have made it possible to get a off grid solar installation done for as low as $6000 per kilowatt form $15000 per kilowatt a couple of years ago.The advantage of an off grid solar system is that it makes you completely independent of the electricity supplier utility.Besides the NZ government does not give subsidy for solar electricity generation though it gives a $1000 subsidy for solar water heater systems done through accreditation installers.
List of major solar panel suppliers,brands in NZ
- BP Solar – British Petroleum (BP) the multi billion dollar Oil and Gas Conglomerate is a strange player in the Renewable Energy Sector of Solar Energy.BP was a dominant company amongst the top 10 global manufacturers of solar panels till a few years ago.However the lack of interest on the part of management,low investment,lack of R&D has made it a bit player in the fast growing solar panel market.Companies which did not exist till a few years ago have outpaced BP to become top solar panel producers.However BP Solar Panels continue to sell in a number of market because of existing sales relationships and brand name.Note BP Solar has closed down its US,Australia and Spain factories.It now outsources manufacturing to low cost locations in India,Mexico and China.While outsourcing itself does not make a product bad,note high quality low cost products are available from the same places,then what is the need of buying the same expensive product – BP Solar Panels in this case.
- REC Solar - It is Norwegian manufacturer of mainly polysilicon and wafers.It suffered like other Europeans from the declines in solar panel prices.Has moved manufacturing to Singapore to lower its cost.Fell down the rankings due to tough competition.However is completely integrated.
- 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 SolarSharp’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
- Suntech – Suntech is 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.
- 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 it has not been aggressive enough leading to loss in marketshare.
I would recommend buying a good quality Chinese Solar Panel from the list of manufactures given below.Note most of them are currently not availabe from suppliers now but they should be in a year or two
- 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
- 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.Trina Solar.Like Yingli and Suntech,Trina Solar Panels are one the best quality in China
- 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.
- 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.
Here is a list of major solar installers in New Zealand
- ABLE SOLAR LTD is a privately owned and operated company in Renewable Energy Systems utilizing Solar and Wind powered generating equipment, storage batteries and control equipment. Able Solar was established in October 1981 in Auckland, and we traded under the name of Able Battery Company Ltd.It sells BP Solar Panels
- Black Diamond Technologies Ltd is the supplier of Mitsubishi Electric products.
- Southern Perspectives is an independent consultancy specializing in renewable energy for the built environment.
- CellPower is an importer and installer of Solar Panels.It stocks a number of solar panels brands from S
- Alphatron is a Dutch group of companies founded in 1979. Alphatron manufacture and distribute communication, observation and energy equipment.It Sells Solar Panels from Unisolar, REC Solar, Solara
- GenkitNelon – The company claims to install its own branded solar panels and inverters
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