Although the photovoltaic module market has suffered setbacks this year, Asian manufacturers are keeping the competition on its toes.
Silicon Valley is one of the world's cleantech big-idea centers but so far it's been Chinese manufacturers -- not valley entrepreneurs -- who are dominating the global solar industry. The Chinese are winning by driving down production costs through incremental innovation, said Zhengrong Shi, founder and CEO of China-based Suntech Power, the world's largest producer of solar panels.
There are two key goals for any solar energy equipment makers: converting a greater percentage of the sunlight into electricity and cutting production costs. Suntech Power, which is the world's top solar cell and panel maker, has launched two solar panels built with technologies that can do both, the company said Tuesday.
A 2006 long-term wafer supply deal between Suntech and MEMC has been ?˜mutually terminated' at a cost to Suntech of approximately US$212 million. Suntech said that the decision to cancel the wafer supply deal was due to ?˜rapid changes in the market for silicon wafers.' Suntech also announced that it was stopping investment in CSG Solar's research and development operations, which focused on crystalline silicon thin-film technology. MEMC remains a wafer supplier to Suntech under other supply agreements.
The production cost of solar power could be halved by 2013 given higher demand, improved technology and economies of scale, according to to Suntech Power Holdings Co, the world's largest thin-film solar cell manufacturer.
LDK Solar is the world's second largest manufacturer of solar wafers - displaced from the top spot by its rapidly growing rival GCL-Poly Energy Holdings last year. The company is also a leading vertically integrated manufacturer of photovoltaic products and competes with other solar energy players like First Solar, Suntech Power and Sunpower.
Suntech Power's Just-Roof building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) module has been approved by French certification body CEIAB (ComitÃ© d'Evaluation de l'IntÃ©gration au BÃ¢ti). CEIAB is France's official evaluation committee for all BIPV products, and its endorsement sees Just Roof gain eligibility for the country's highest available feed-in-tariff.
Solar panel maker Suntech Power Holdings Co. expects to double its market share in Japan to at least 10 percent in 2012, helped by the expected adoption of a feed-in-tariff scheme, the head of its Japan business said on Tuesday.
Suntech Power ousted its biggest competitor in the solar industry, FirstSolar, to become the largest supplier of photovoltaic (PV) modules in the world last year. The company shipped 1,522 megawatt ( MW ) of PV modules in 2010, comfortably ahead of the 1,411 MW First Solar shipped across the globe.
Wall Street Journal
Sky Solar has named Amy Zhang, Suntech's former CFO, as its new CEO and executive director, succeeding founder and chairman Weili Su, who will focus on company's strategic development and promoting its advanced technologies.
Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. and First Solar Inc., the world's top solar panel suppliers, warned Monday that potential cuts in European government subsidies for solar power could lead to both lower demand and prices for their products, a combination that could hit their bottom lines.
Wall Street Journal
Solar panel producer Suntech Power Holdings Co. said Wednesday it is buying 375 megawatts of wafer manufacturing capacity in China for $127 million.
Suntech Power Holdings has struck deals with four companies: Azuray, Enphase, National Semiconductor and Tigo to enable "smart panel" solutions.
Suntech Power China's largest maker of solar panels, said on Thursday that it has signed a deal to develop solar plants in South Africa with up to 100 megawatts in capacity.
Wall Street Journal
Chinese wafer supplier Huantai Silicon has suspended its partnership with the country's solar cells and panels giant Suntech Power on their joint venture Glory Silicon, and will jointly build a new venture with U.S. veteran wafer producer MEMC Electronic Materials.
Suntech Power has announced that its first US manufacturing plant for the growing North American market would be located in the Greater Phoenix, Arizona area. The plant will have an initial production capacity of 30 megawatts (MW) and is expected to begin production in the third quarter of 2010.
Suntech Power has announced that it has beaten all previous records for multicrystalline silicon module conversion efficiency. The new world record conversion efficiency (aperture area only) was measured at 16.53%.
"During the boom, there were significant capacity increases. There were also, by the way, significant announcements of capacity that may or may not have happened..."
New York Times
Solar power leaders remain hopeful in what could be a huge upturn in US solar demand, but continue to be careful about the rest of 2009 after being hit hard from the global credit predicament.
Suntech Power and Schott Solar announce plans for new US production plants as demand for panels continues to climb.
Although solar module makers are trying to get rid of excess inventory, the price of conventional home solar systems remains somewhat unfazed because of other factors, like declining subsidies.