The China LED industry has developed a breakneck pace over the last two years, largely thanks to a clear government policy on solid-state lighting (SSL) and the inclusion of LED as one of the key areas of industry for development within the 12th Five Year Plan (12th FYP). While the 12th FYP took effect from 2011, the government published a revised set of 12th FYP Semiconductor Lighting Technology Development Projects in 2012. The revised plans increase many of the numerical indicators and targets from the old version, demonstrating China's desire to up the pace of LED industry development. Digitimes Research compares the two versions for analysis.
While the government has established clear industry policies, the China LED industry still lacks the 20-year history of the Taiwan or Japan industries. The breakdown of sectors in which it is competitive and uncompetitive therefore differs significantly from those regions. Digitimes Research believes that China is most competitive in rare earth materials, LED packages, and end product applications; it is relatively weak in other areas.
This report mainly focuses on China's LED chip and packaging sector because in recent years, the number of MOCVD equipment in China has been growing rapidly due to strong government subsidies. This makes the development of the country's upstream and downstream LED sectors intriguing. There are considerable variations in the level of success achieved by the various major players, and these differences are analyzed in terms of financial position, capacity and industry presence. Digitimes Research believes Sanan Optoelectronics has the highest rating, followed by Electech, Epilight, Tsinghua Tongfang and Silan Azure.
The rise of China-based LED chip makers has also stimulated the growth of the regional LED package industry. However, China's industry ecosystem for the LED package sector differs from those of other regions most notably in terms of fragmentation, with more than 1,000 companies involved compared to only a handful of significant players in other regions. Digitimes Research has a number of players as indicators based on their relatively large size and greater potential for development; the largest of these are Nationstar, Honglitronic, Ledman, Refond, Jufei (JF), and Z-Light.
Nationstar has the greatest potential for future industry presence, with a very comprehensive industry chain covering upstream LED chips and downstream end lighting products. Honglitronic and Z-Light are more focused on downstream LED lighting development, while Ledman, Refond and Jufei are all mainly expanding LED package capacity. In overall terms, Nationstar is the most competitive and is likely to remain the number one China-based LED packaging company.