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10 GW+ “Industrial 4.0” Chinese Solar Capacities Could Strengthen Their Dominance Once and For All

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Industrial 4.0, AI and Data Analytics in Solar Manufacturing

The Chinese solar companies are rapidly improving their technology and scale of operations further extending their lead over the few remaining non-Chinese solar players. Canadian Solar recently announced that it would become the first company to have a 10 GW+ solar module capacity in 2018. It may be beaten by Jinko Solar and Trina Solar which are also aggressively expanding capacity as the global solar market is expected to touch the 100 GW milestone this year. Having a 10% market share is not totally unexpected. Compare this to the puny 100 MW lines that many module companies around the world have. India has more than 50 companies which have less than 100 MW capacity.

Canadian Solar

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What will be more alarming to their competitors is the recent announcement by Tongwei to build two massive 10 GW solar cell factories using “Industrial 4.0 technology. These plants will be using the latest industrial process technology with a lot of AI and data analytics support. They will almost be completely automated and will be highly efficient using minimal materials and optimizing production. This is in line with the Chinese industrial strategy of transforming its massive industrial capacity for the AI age. It will use systems which are completely automated. This is expected to further reduce costs and make the Chinese companies more competitive. Tongwei is an integrated solar company manufacturing polysilicon, wafers, cells as well as modules. It is also expanding its poly capacity by another massive 50,000 tons.

Tongwei plans to build these factories using monocrystalline technology at a cost of $1.8 billion. This investment is not too high and shows the rapid CapEx reduction per watt that has been managed by Chinese capital equipment players in the recent past. GCL is also building large new wafer and cell factories using highly automated technology inline with the government’s vision. These massive plants will put the Chinese companies in another league, in terms of their costs and scale and will leave the other companies far behind. First Solar which is the only large player left, has only 3-4 GW of capacity and is trying to consolidate as it tries to match the cost curves of the large Chinese groups. It is not in a position to create such massive capacities.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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