For the last two years, solar companies have been buzzing about how they would soon reach "grid parity," or the point at which renewable energy would be price-competitive with conventional electricity. In those years – during a silicon shortage that kept the supply of solar panels below demand -- manufacturers were working to grow capacity as fast as possible, and a number of companies, including Sharp Corp., SunPower Corp. and Showa Shell Sekiyu announced plans to build 1-gigawatt factories. But things have changed.

Rainer Gegenwart, CEO of Masdar PV, said he expects to see solar companies start to collaborate in order to purchase materials— including "glass, foils, gas, everything" — in bulk.