Solar Panel Manufacturers in USA are facing a torrid time from the falling prices of Chinese solar panels.This has caused the bankruptcies of some big solar panel companies in recent times like Solyndra,Spectrawatt and Evergreen Solar.Only those solar panel companies with the lowest cost and good quality will manage to survive the price war in solar panels that is currently on.Most companies are running losses as the prices of solar panels have decreased by 40% in 6 months.This would cause any industry to see massive bankruptcies and this is the case with the solar panel industry as well.Note Solar Industry is a new one with rapid technology and cost changes which makes startups with bad business models go bust.This is a natural effect of capitalism and nothing to be afraid of .However you have to be careful of which solar panel manufacturer to buy from as your 25 year solar panel warranty will become useless if the solar panel manufacturer from which you brought the solar panel goes out of business.On the Bright Side the sharply declining costs of solar has made it the biggest advantage of using solar power.

Amorphous Silicon Solar Panels were the big rage in 2-3 years ago when the prices of polysilicon the main raw material were touching $500/kg making the mainstream crystalline silicon solar panels very expensive.Amorphous Silicon (a-Si) on the other hand is a non-crystalline silicon which is deposited as an extremely thin layer on glass and other substrates.The cost of the silicon is much lower though the efficiency of solar cells which are made from a-Si is about half of those made from crystalline silicon.Applied Materials with its SunFab turnkey amorphous silicon (a-Si) equipment capitalized on this opportunity, lining up a number of customers with some customer orders in the range of a Billion Dollars.Oerlikon Solar was the other major thin film equipment market winning customers in Europe and China.Sky high poly prices also gave birth to numerous Thin Film startups planning to Manufacture and Use their own equipment rather than selling it .

Sharp which was the biggest solar company in 2010 in terms of revenues is being finally forced to move its production away from Japan to low cost countries in Asia.Note the relentless cut in prices of solar panels by Chinese solar panel companies has made life impossible for high cost panel companies in Europe and Japan.While US Companies like Sunpower and First Solar always had the majority of their production in low cost locales like Malaysia and Philipines,European solar firms had also started shifting their production overseas with Q-Cells moving to Malaysia and REC to Singapore.The current glut in solar panels has let to massive bloodletting in the solar industry with some established companies like Evergreen,ENER on the verge of bankruptcy.The sharp cost improvements and increased supply of crystalline silicon solar panels is set about to bring radical changes in the solar industry after a massive boom in 2010.The Second Wave of Thin Film Technology Bankruptcies has already started and we can expect more of that soon.Most of the production bases in Europe should be shuttered as well as costs have become higher than the selling prices.PV Crystalox and REC are already in a lot of trouble,cutting production and forecasting losses in the second half of 2011.

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.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.

Sharp is the biggest company in the world in terms of making revenues from sales of solar panels so it seems counterintuitive for someone to recommend not buying Sharp Solar Panels.However this Japanese Conglomerate has been losing marketshare rapidly to cheaper Asian competitors.Sharp due to its factories in high cost locations makes solar panels at a much higher cost and sells them at much higher prices as well.The reason is that they manage to sell so many solar panels is that consumers are not educated about other better options and the other solar panel companies don’t have the distribution networks.Note Sharp has been trying to diversify away from crystalline solar panels to thin film solar panels.The reason is that they are losing the competitive advantage to Chinese companies like Trina Solar and others.

Solar Energy in Japan has a long future dating back to 1994 when the government introduced capital subsidies to boost solar energy installations on rooftops.Till 2004,Japan was the largest solar market in the world after which it was overtaken by Germany.After 2004,the growth in the solar industry tapered off as the government reduced the subsidies for solar panels to almost zero.The huge domestic market gave rise to Japanese companies like Sharp,Mitsubishi,Kyocera,Panasonic-Sanyo become top solar panel producers in the world.However the low cost Chinese solar module producers have pushed back most of the Japanese companies.Since the last year,the Japanese government has again started giving generous solar subsidies and feed in tariff to boost the renewable energy production in the country which remains far off targets.This has led Japan to become the top non-European market after USA and the growth seems set to continue in the future as well.Japan has relatively low installations costs and is much nearer to grid parity.Also lack of wind energy makes solar energy more attractive as a renewable energy choice.While large scale solar installations in Japan are almsot absent,there remain large numbers of rooftop solar installations.