Top Solar Manufacturers – Japan Losing Market Share

While Japan has been firmly entrenched as the leading country for photovoltaic cell production for many years, the last 12 months has seen a major reshuffle, with some well established solar panel companies being ousted from the top 10 and 4 Asian companies now being among the major players.

The following are the top companies along with production in 2007

Q-Cells (Germany) – 400 megawatts
Sharp (Japan) – 370 megawatts
Suntech (China) – 300 megawatts
Kyocera (Japan) – 200 megawatts

4 new companies joined the top 10 during the last year:

First Solar (USA)
Motech Industries (Taiwan)
Yingli Green Energy (China)
JA Solar Holdings (China/Australia)

Japan’s share of the pv cell market was at 50% just a few years ago, but has dropped to around 20% and is forecast to lose further ground as countries such as China continue to manufacture high quality/low price panels and other countries increase production.

The major Japanese players will be ramping up production in the next two years in an attempt to regain market share, with Sharp planning on a 2 gigawatts expansion and Showa Shell Solar planning a 1 gigawatt expansion.

A Showa Shell Solar spokesman recently stated that with an abundant supply of silicon and major advancements in technology now accessible, companies who miss the window of opportunity during the next two years will certainly lose out to the competition.