Suntech overtakes FSLR in PV modules rankings with 130% growth

East beat West in 2010 photovoltaics (PV) module shipments: Suntech took the top spot from First Solar, all of the suppliers gaining rank were Chinese and both the suppliers losing rank were headquartered in the US, says IMS Research, which published its top 10 rankings.

April 14, 2011 — IMS Research’s latest analysis of the global photovoltaics (PV) supply chain, based on shipment data from hundreds of suppliers, reveals that, while market conditions meant that all suppliers could grow their shipments, some suppliers were able to benefit more than others.

Suntech was the largest PV module supplier in 2010, growing its shipments by more than 130% over the previous year, to ship more MWs than any of its competitors. First Solar, which held the top spot in 2009, fell to second place, increasing its shipments by less than 50% although the total market more than doubled.

Chinese Tier-1 suppliers Canadian Solar (though headquartered in ON, Canada, Canadian Solar is classed as Chinese because nearly all of its operations and production are carried out in China, so all of its costs/prices etc. are typical of a Chinese supplier) and Hanwha SolarOne (formerly Solarfun) both gained two places in the rankings; in fact, all the suppliers in the top ten gaining rank were Chinese. Conversely, both the suppliers losing rank were headquartered in the US. One western supplier bucking this trend was REC, which moved quickly up the rankings to become the 11th largest supplier of PV modules in 2010.

Rank Company Change from 
last year
1 Suntech  +1
2 First Solar  -1
3 Sharp  –
4 Yingli  –
5 Trina Solar  –
6 Canadian Solar  +2
7 Kyocera  –
8 Sunpower  -2
9 Hanwha SolarOne  +2
10 Solarworld  –
PV module supplier rankings (annual MW shipments, excluding OEMs). SOURCE: IMS Research April 2011.

“Module suppliers were able to benefit from the strong demand, which lasted all year, and make great increases in their shipments; five of the top ten suppliers more than doubled them, some even increased them by more than 150%,” says Sam Wilkinson, PV market analyst at IMS Research.

Another clear winner in 2010 was JA Solar, another large Chinese supplier, which increased its production by nearly 180%, becoming the largest producer of PV cells, having been only the fifth largest producer in 2009.

IMS Research predicts a slowdown in growth for the PV module market in 2012, as many major European markets cool following amendments to incentive schemes.

Detailed analysis of supply and demand dynamics in this market is available from IMS Research’s quarterly PV cell and module report. For more information, visit

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