Solar Market Corrections Continue: Shunfeng Photovoltaic Set To Acquire Suntech

Chinese solar PV module manufacturer Suntech has been struggling for some time now. Once a leader in the PV industry, the company declared bankruptcy last March and in September announced that is was re-organizing its operations.

When the re-org was announced, blogger Doug Young speculated that there would soon be “a major asset sale” to another solar company.  That time appears to have come. Reports are now surfacing that Suntech is selling its main assets to Shunfeng Photovoltaic (SF-PV), a company that is partially owned by Cheng Kin Ming, for US $492 Million.  According to Bloomberg, Cheng also owns 25 percent of struggling LDK Solar.

Suntech was the largest solar manufacturer by capacity in 2010 and 2011 (see chart below, courtesy Paula Mints, SPV Market Research) steadily adding capacity as manufacturers eagerly worked to capture the lion’s share of the rapidly growing PV market in Europe. FIT price cuts then took effect and the European PV market rapidly cooled, leaving a giant oversupply situation. That oversupply brought PV panel prices into a drastic freefall, resulting in bankruptcies and restructuring of many major solar players such as Suntech.

SF-PV is headquartered in Jingsu Province, China and is a relatively new player in the global solar industry. It produces ingots, wafers, cells and modules. The company listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2011 and, according to its website, has set its sights on becoming a vertically integrated solar company. SF-PV’s half-year financials, released last June, indicate that the company has been purchasing project pipelines for development and that it expects to have more than 1 GW of signed Chinese projects in its pipeline by the end of 2013. 

According to reports, Suntech’s creditors must appove the acquisition in order for it to proceed and a meeting is set to take place next week. If the acquisition of Suntech goes through, SF-PV will add significant manufacturing capacity to its growing project pipeline. Solar analyst Paula Mints said that the purchase of Suntech would be “an inexpensive way to ramp capacity, given the rock bottom price that Suntech is going for.” Mints has been tracking the solar industry for more than 16 years.

Solar PV Manufacturers by Capacity 2010 and 2011 (Courtesy Paula Mints, SPV Market Research)

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Jennifer Runyon
Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference and expo for the transmission and distribution industry. In her role, she works in close cooperation with a large team of committed industry executives to shape the educational content for the event. She also helps assemble the renewable energy content for POWERGEN and helped launch the first Grid-Scale Storage Summit, a co-located event at HYDROVISION International. She has traveled to Germany to see onshore and offshore wind installations; Iceland to see geothermal energy in action; and France to see cutting-edge smart grids. In the U.S. she has visited and reported about bioenergy power plants in Florida, both large-scale and small-scale hydropower; and multiple wind farms, solar PV, and CSP installations. Formerly, she was the managing editor of Innovate Forum, an online publication that focused on innovation in manufacturing. Prior to that she was the managing editor at Desktop Engineering magazine. In 2008, she won an "Eddy Award" for her editing work on an article about solar trees in Vienna. In 2010, RenewableEnergyWorld.com was awarded an American Business Media Neal Award for its eNewsletters, which were created under her direction. She holds a Master's Degree in English Education from Boston University and a BA in English from the University of Virginia.

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