Top-10 solar cell suppliers in 2009: iSuppli


Friends, I recently received this list from iSuppli and hope to be speaking with the company in more detail. In the meantime, the study is reproduced here for the benefit of readers. May I also thank iSuppli and Jon Cassell.

First Solar to produce twice as much as leading crystalline solar module suppliers

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Leveraging its low-cost thin-film process, US-based First Solar Inc. is set to surpass its crystalline competitors to become the world’s largest producer of photovoltaic (PV) cells in 2009, according to iSuppli Corp.

First Solar in 2009 is set to produce 1,100 Megawatts (MW) worth of solar cells, more than double the 503MW it made in 2008. This will give First Solar nearly twice as much production of total solar cells as its nearest competitor, Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. As iSuppli noted in an Aug. 10 release, SunTech in 2009 is set to become the leader of the crystalline segment, which is a subset of the total solar cell market.

“First Solar is leveraging its cost leadership to achieve market-share leadership in the global PV solar cell business,” said Dr. Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst for iSuppli. “The company’s proprietary thin-film process is giving it an edge over the competition amid challenging solar market conditions.”

The figure presents iSuppli’s forecasted worldwide market share for all types of solar cells in 2009.

iSuppli:Forecast of Top-10 Suppliers of Solar Cells in 2009 (Ranking by Production in Megawatts (MW))

iSuppli:Forecast of Top-10 Suppliers of Solar Cells in 2009 (Ranking by Production in Megawatts (MW))

iSuppli:Forecast of Top-10 Suppliers of Solar Cells in 2009 (Ranking by Production in Megawatts (MW))

Source: iSuppli, USA, Sept. 2009

“First Solar sells its products at very competitive prices, always undercutting crystalline cells,” Wicht said. “With its capability to produce cells at a cost of 89 cents per watt in the second quarter, First Solar is generating stable operating margins, while its competitors are struggling to stay profitable. Despite global oversupply of PV modules, First Solar is continuing to expand and is able to sell nearly all of its finished goods.”

Beyond low-cost production, First Solar’s success is also being driven by its well-established sales channels in Europe and its own installations for US utility projects.

First Solar will be the only company among the Top-4 solar cell suppliers able to gain market share in 2009, iSuppli predicts. The company’s portion of global solar cell MW production will rise to 12.8 percent in 2009, up from 7.5 percent in 2008. No.-2 SunTech, No.-3 Sharp and No.-4 Q-Cells — all will suffer contractions in total solar cell market share.

First Solar also holds the lowest levels of inventory in the global solar cell industry. Because of this, iSuppli expects the company to actually sell all of its production in 2009, rather than stockpiling it. With inventories throughout the PV supply chain soaring, this give First Solar a significant competitive advantage.

With 3.92GW worth of solar capacity set to be installed in 2009, First Solar’s cells will account for as much as 28 percent of the total, according to iSuppli. The company’s share will be even higher in ground installations and large rooftops, where its products find the strongest acceptance. Its share will be lower in other types of installations, such as small rooftops.

Thin-film represents a new generation of solar cell technology that is gaining acceptance worldwide. Traditional solar cells have employed crystalline material, which is relatively efficient at converting light into electricity, but also more expensive relative to thin-film. In addition to SunTech, crystalline solar-cell suppliers include Q-Cells, Sharp, Yingli and JA Solar.

In contrast, thin-film employs slim layers of materials including cadmium, tellurium, copper, amorphous, and microcrystalline silicon.

Because of its cost advantage, thin film will grow to account for 34.5 percent of worldwide solar production in terms of MW in 2013, up from 14.2 percent in 2008.

Despite the strong rise of thin-films, iSuppli doesn’t believe that the technology will surpass crystalline in the foreseeable future.

“The rise of thin-film is due to the success of First Solar and its unique thin film process,” Wicht said. “There’s no new First Solar yet on the horizon. With only one supplier, thin film’s progress will be limited.”

First Solar employs a patented process using cadmium telluride (CdTe).

I certainly hope to get into a further discussion with Dr. Henning Wicht on this list, and with him and Stefan de Haan on the top 10/20 thin film module producers, as well as crystalline cell manufacturers. Stay tuned, folks!

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Leveraging its low-cost thin-film process, US-based First Solar Inc. is set to surpass its crystalline competitors to become the world’s largest producer of photovoltaic (PV) cells in 2009, according to iSuppli Corp.
First Solar in 2009 is set to produce 1,100 Megawatts (MW) worth of solar cells, more than double the 503MW it made in 2008. This will give First Solar nearly twice as much production of total solar cells as its nearest competitor, Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. As iSuppli noted in an Aug. 10 release, SunTech in 2009 is set to become the leader of the crystalline segment, which is a subset of the total solar cell market.
“First Solar is leveraging its cost leadership to achieve market-share leadership in the global PV solar cell business,” said Dr. Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst for iSuppli. “The company’s proprietary thin-film process is giving it an edge over the competition amid challenging solar market conditions.”
The figure presents iSuppli’s forecasted worldwide market share for all types of solar cells in 2009.
iSuppli:Forecast of Top-10 Suppliers of Solar Cells in 2009 (Ranking by Production in Megawatts (MW))
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  1. Virat Damania
    October 12, 2009 at 5:41 pm | #1

    This is great information. Any information about Solyndra and its technology?

  2. Pradeep Chakraborty
    October 15, 2009 at 8:44 pm | #2

    Thanks Virat. Keep a close watch for November 2009 — there’s a solar event in Hyderabad, India, followed by the launch of the National Solar Mission on Nov. 14th. You’ll know where to put your money or bet on, in India. :)

    • Ritesh Agnani
      January 21, 2010 at 9:38 am | #3

      Dear Pradeep,

      Quite useful information provided. We are doing some research on Thin Film based solar cells market in India. We (myself and my colleagues from IITB) wish to enter this segment but have very less capital at hand. Could you suggest us some good starting point?

      • January 21, 2010 at 9:46 am | #4

        Hi Ritesh, thanks for your comments.

        A good area to enter could be in the off-grid applications side, rather than grid. For off-grid, there are several areas you could look at.

        I’ve written a lot about thin film solar cells. Again, I’ve also mentioned off-grid solar apps several times. You could start from one of those areas. Also, you should check with IREDA, of MNRE, Delhi.

  3. Shankhadeep Bandyopadhyay
    December 1, 2009 at 12:28 pm | #5

    hi pradeep,

    loved your blog.
    do you have similar data for indian companies or maybe the major players in solar pv cells in India apart from Tata BP Solar and Moserbaer??
    n some imp pv cell projects.

    would really appreciate a post on that
    thanks

  4. Pradeep Chakraborty
    December 1, 2009 at 1:24 pm | #6

    Thanks Shankhadeep. Yes, I certainly do! Will try and see what can be done! :) Please give me some time.

  5. Shankhadeep Bandyopadhyay
    December 2, 2009 at 8:40 am | #7

    Thanks Pradeep. Looking forward to it.

  6. Ian
    March 15, 2010 at 1:25 am | #8

    I wanted to thank you for this information. Its nice that you share this.

  7. PATTON ELECT
    May 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm | #9

    We are in need of any of these items bellow and if you could supply us with
    any of the items below as a urgent needed

    1, 40watt or 125watt solar panel any brand

    2, solar charge controller 12v or 24v 10amp and 60amp and any model also

    3, Lorentz pump ps1800 c-sj5-12

    4, Shurflo Pumps (Model# 9325-043-101) 9300 Series DC Submersible Pump

    5,Sealed lead Batteries 9amps to 210amps 12volt

    6,DC/AC POWER INVETER 12/24 DC 220VAC 1000 WATT TO 4000WATT

    7,Grundfos SQFlex 11 SQF-2 submersible pumps ogundare Bankole Segun:

    If you could not get any of the items for us, please help us to look for where to get any of the items as a urgent needed.and we will like to know do you accept Credit Card both with the shipment too,because we need it urgent. Thanks.

  8. Steven Gomolak
    November 28, 2011 at 8:54 pm | #10

    I am planning to start a solar panel manufacturing business soon, and I am looking for pricing of solar cells. could you please contact me at 425-319-2038.
    Thank you!

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