With plummeting prices in the past few years, many upstream solar companies have expanded further downstream in the value chain to maximize their growth prospects and profits. But here's the Catch-22: in many cases this expansion of solar market exposure has multiplied the cost pressures from all directions in the market's relentless march to lower costs overall. Increasingly it's made more sense for solar cell and module companies to just procure the material rather than make it internally. The next big wave of industry consolidation might well start with vertically integrated manufacturers.