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List of World’s Major Solar Energy Companies

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Solar Energy is the fastest growing renewable energy source in the world and has shown tremendous growth in the last 2-3 years.This has been driven by a more than 50% decline in Solar PV costs which continues to decline further.With further increase in energy prices,Solar Power is becoming closer and closer to retail electricity price.Not only is the price declining,solar power is clean energy a most valuable feature in these days of accelerating climate change.Solar Energy has already reached grid parity in places like Italy and Hawaii and will do so in more places in the coming 2-3 years.The industry is a dynamic one and the list of top solar companies can change quickly.Rapid Technology Change and Fast Declining Costs have pushed out most of the Top 10 companies of 5 years ago and brought in new ones mainly Chinese.Here is a list of the Top Solar Panel Producers in the World.

1) First Solarthe US based Cadmium Tellurium (Cd-Te) is the lowest cost panel producer in the world today if you don’t include any penalty for low efficiency.Even if you penalize the Cd-Te Technology for its lower efficiency vis-a-vis the higher efficiency crystalline technology,First Solar is clearly the leader with a core cost of 74c/watt.The company has a roadmap of  reducing the cost to 52c/watt by 2014 and given its track record it seems quite achievable.

2) Sharp – Sharp,the Japanese Electronics Giant was the largest solar company in the world by revenues in 2009,however it risks losing its top 5 place in 2011 as Chinese companies ramp up capacity at a much higher rate.Sharp has been shielded from the fierce competition in the solar panel market as the domestic Japanese market has also grown sharply.Japan is a tough market for foreign companies to crack like other sectors and that has allowed Sharp to prosper despite much higher costs and lower margins.However,Sharp has not been able to grow fast enough in 2010 with major Chinese companies seeing upwards of 100% growth

3) 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

4) 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.

5) 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 manged to acquire a 10% global marketshare.The prices the solar panels being sold are around $340 per 200 watt module.

6) JA Solar – JA Solar unlike the others mainly produces solar cells instead of solar modules.The company is one of the lowest cost producer of solar cells in the industry and has recently expanded into producing modules as well.The company has shown the fastest growth in 2010 and looks to be a world leader in the future.

7) Motech – This Taiwan producer of Solar Cells was one of the biggest in 2007 but has gone down the ranks.TSMC bought a stake in this company after it faltered post the Lehman crisis.The company seems to be recovering ,however it has seen newer rivals like Neo Solar,Del Solar and Gintech expand more rapidly.

8) Gintech – It is the biggest solar cell producer in Taiwan and has shown amazing growth since its inception.Gintech like JA Solar producers mostly solar cells.

9) 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.

10) 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.

11) Sunpower – Sunpower produces the highest efficiency crystalline solar panels in the world.This is a US company like First Solar and has a strong system installation business as well.A offspring of Cypress Semiconductor,it faced tough times due to its higher costs.However seems to be on a recovery path.Failed to expand as rapidly as the Asians in 2010.

12) Renewable Energy Corporation – 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.

13) Solarworld – 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 .

14) Panasonic/Sanyo – Sanyo is the producer of high efficiency solar panels and like Sharp sells mostly in Japan and USA.With buyout by Panasonic is looking to sell integrated energy  efficiency/energy storage/solar energy home solution.

15) LDK Solar – This is the biggest producer of solar wafers that are used by crystalline solar panels.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.

16) Renesola – Very similar to LDK Solar in operations and structure.It is expanding into other parts of the supply chain.This Chinese producer is a very low cost producer of wafers.

17) 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 Important Reads.

  1. 2010 Solar Demand to Skyrocket, 2011 however is a Question
  2. The rise of the Chinese and the fall of the Japanese in the Solar Rankings
  3. Solar Leader Sharp shifting its Focus from Crystalline Solar to Amorphous Silicon Thin Film Technology
  4. South Korean Conglomerate Hanwha follows LG,Samsung into Solar Energy;Acquires controlling stake in 4th Largest Chinese Solar company Solarfun cheaply
  5. Taiwan’s TSMC makes a late but smart entry into Solar Energy;Buys Equity Stakes in Stion and Motech
  6. Cheapest Solar Panels – Which Companies Sell at the Lowest Price and Why you should avoid Distributors/Wholesalers
  7. The Chinese Penetrate the US Solar Utility Market – exclusive playground of First Solar and Sunpower
  8. Have the European Solar companies (REC,Solarworld,Q-Cells) really returned from the dead?
  9. Have the European Solar companies (REC,Solarworld,Q-Cells) really returned from the dead?
  10. Spanish CSP Leader Abengoa thinks Solar Thermal Technology won’t reach Grid Parity till 2020
  11. Taiwan’s Solar Cell Concentration in the PV Supply Chain makes it Vulnerable to Oversupply
  12. Why is Japanese Technology Giant Toshiba entering the Solar EPC business?
  13. Applied Materials conducts euthanasia on its long suffering Amorphous Silicon thin film Sunfab division

Abhishek Shah

10 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Osha Gray Davidson

    Great list. Do you have something similar, but showing the top solar installers in the US?

  2. Muhammad Aslam Thakur

    want to submit my master minds. new, unique intellectual ideas relating to a unique motorcar

  3. Con Kastro

    I have received a quote for a 36 Panel 6.84 kW solar electricity system using premium quality Suntech solar panels with a SMA 10000TL Inverter. The cost is very reasonable and am very tempted to purchase.

    Can anyone tell me where on a list of Top Solar Manufacturers Worldwide Does a Sungen come in? As I am also tempted to purchase a 6kw Sungen panels and Aurora Inverter. However from all the research I’ve done on the net I cant find much information about Sungen.

    Can anybody help please?

  4. Abhishek Shah

    Hi Con,
    Suntech and SMA are very high quality manufacturers.You won’t have any product issues with them.Sungen is not among the top 20 producers and don’t think is publicly listed as well.You will have to do your own due diligence on both sungence and aurora

  5. mohammad ali hamidnejad

    Dear sir,

    Please send me latest detail of solar development in the world special in china and hong kong.

    Best Regard

  6. Shashi


    I am looking for solar power manufacturers who are interested to invest back in projects. If anyone interested then pls contact me.