Who’s spending on solar? Mostly China

Seven of the 10 biggest expansions this year for PV solar cell/module manufacturing will be at Chinese companies, collectively tacking on 6.4GW, according to research firm iSuppli.

November 29, 2010 – Seven of the 10 biggest expansions this year for PV solar cell/module manufacturing will be at Chinese companies, collectively tacking on 6.4GW, according to research firm iSuppli.

It’s a pretty clear equation by now: European countries are the end-market installers, and China has “a dominant position” in making those cells and modules, notes Greg Sheppard, iSuppli’s chief research officer, in a statement. And with those Chinese suppliers now racing among themselves to expand manufacturing, that will only cement the nation’s dominance in PV cell/module supplies.

A look at some of the more active PV makers:


  • China’s LDK Solar, adding the most capacity (1.42GW worth) this year for both crystalline silicon cells (1.3GW) and c-Si modules (120kW). “LDK is adding enormous amounts of capacity as it tries to keep pace with fellow Chinese solar suppliers,” Sheppard noted.
  • REC from Norway “is reinvigorating its cell and module business with a giant new campus in Singapore,” adding 1.09GW of new manufacturing capacity.
  • JA Solar is tops in c-Si cell expansion, with 700MW out of the 1GW total additions for that technology.

The PV industry will spend about $11B in 2010 on production equipment, including ingots, polysilicon, and wafers, iSuppli estimates. That’s being driven by doubling of sales for solar panels, plus pent-up demand following a slow capex environment in 2009. Thin-film companies “have been relatively small spenders this year,” iSuppli notes, as they absorb a lot of recently added capacity. First Solar, for example, has focused on increasing its capacity through efficiency improvements rather than buying new equipment.

Top 10 ranked companies conducting PV cell and module manufacturing
expansions in 2010, in MW (estimated for entire year 2010). (Source: iSuppli)
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