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.
The Taiwanese Solar Industry has become the 2nd largest in the world following in the footsteps of China.Taiwanese Solar Industry has a longer history than the Chinese with Solar Cell Makers Motech and E-Ton establishing themselves globally way back in 2006.However the steep fall in solar panel prices following the Lehman crisis had led to losses for these companies as the Chinese companies surged ahead using their low cost manufacturing.The crisis also led to the emergence of newer Taiwanese companies like Gintech,Neo Solar which are growing at extremely fast rates.Note Taiwan is a hub of semiconductor manufacturing with leading companies like TSMC,AUO,UMC,HTC etc.Solar Industry uses many of the same technologies,raw materials and techniques common to semiconductor and Display Panels Production giving Taiwanese firms a natural advantage.Taiwan has been predominantly present in the crystalline Solar Cell part of the supply chain and lacks a big manufacturer of polysilicon ( though a facility has been started).The lack of vertical integration has also made the costs of the Taiwanese industry higher.The entry of large companies like AUO,TSMC has further increased the competition in the Taiwanese market.Note Taiwan’s government has also promoted the use of solar energy in the country through the use of a Feed in Tariff program.
The South Korean Government is the Greenest government in the world without a doubt.The Korean government not only implement the biggest green stimulus but has also heavily promoted the use of Green Industry in Korea and amongst its industries.As a result South Korean Chaebols like Samsung,LG,Hanwha,Hyundai are making massive investments into Wind,Solar,Tidal,Nuclear Energy and Elective Vehicles,Batteries etc.A common theme running across these companies is their strong investments into the crystalline silicon solar supply chain.Hanwha has already become one of the biggest manufacturers of solar panels in the world by acquiring Chinese producer Solarfun while OCI Chemicals is set to become the biggest producer of polysilicon in the world.South Korea has also one of the most generous Solar Feed in Tariff Programs in the world to encourage solar panel installation in the country.While the subsidy ran into a hiccup,Korean Solar Energy is set to grow again as the government pushes Solar Energy Strongly.Here are a list of the major Korean Solar Companies.
While the major solar energy companies are expanding rapidly as the solar industry grew by almost 150% in 2010,a number of non-solar MNCs have gotten into this sector.The massive growth of solar industry which has been vastly underestimated by policymaker and analysts have not been hidden from these giant companies.While a number of these companies have been present since a long time,some are entering the growing solar energy field for the first time.Some like BP have lost the plot and become minor players despite being top companies a few years ago.Shell has totally left the solar energy field selling its plant to Motech.Asian conglomerates and semiconductor companies have been the most aggressive in entering this area.Chemical companies too have shown interest in building polysilicon plants which build on their core competence.Others have entered the Solar Thermal Energy Field which reinforces their traditional strengths in building power plants and EPC work.Here is list of the top non-solar companies entering the solar sector.
Polysilicon or refined silicon is the raw material behind most of the world’s consumer electronics.Polysilicon is used to make both solar and semiconductor silicon wafers.Silicon wafers are used in making chips which are used by the Intels and Samsungs of the world while Solar Wafers are used in making solar crystalline panels used in generating electricity from the sun.Most of the world’s major solar energy companies used c-Si Technology in making solar panels.Polysilicon is an energy intensive process which requires cheap electricity.The polysilicon is produced mostly in the western countries like Japan,USA and Germany now.However the rise of solar panel producers in Asia has given rise to large volume Asian producers of polysilicon as well.Note Polysilicon production is concentrated in the hands of 8-9 companies unlike solar panel production which is done by hundreds of companies.This is a capital intensive process and requires around 2 years to complete a single plant.Semiconductors require higher purity levels of Polysilicon than the solar industry.The massive increase in demand from the solar industry has led to massive growth in poly production.Here are a list of the main polysilicon companies in the world
Solar Wafer Companies are mainly concentrated in Asia specifically China and Taiwan.Cheap labour,lower land and capital costs as well as presence of major customers has made China the No.1 Solar Wafer Producer in the world.Despite most of the polysilicon being produced in Europe and USA,China leads the way in wafer production.Note semiconductor wafers in contrast are mainly produced in the developed countries like Japan,USA and Germany.The structural forces of the crystalline silicon industry is forcing vertical integration with cell producers making wafers and wafer production companies making cells.However there are a few companies which predominantly concentrate on supply solar wafers to solar cell manufacturers.Here is the list of the main solar wafer producers which have shown stunning growth in the last few years.