ReferencesAll company information has been obtained from company websites, Reuters and Factiva database. For comparison, currency amounts have been converted using exchange rates as of 20/06/09.
Value Chain Activity: Manufacturing Crystalline Cells
Cell manufacturing involves creating the all-important pn-junction, coating and layering. It is an important step in the value chain that is responsible for 14% of a module's cost and it is here where significant technical differentiation is created.
High capital requirements
High capital requirements for the manufacturing line combined with need for economies of scale mean can make it difficult for new entrants.
Upstream supply secured wtih long-term contracts
Suppliers of wafers are either independent wafer companies or polysilicon producers themselves. In any case, the supply is dominated by the relationship with polysilicon suppliers. See separate section on dynamics.
The trend towards vertical integration is very evident in this segment. Of the 62 companies surveyed, only 19 were pure and simple cell manufacturers. Many were both forward- and backward- integrated into wafers and modules. Some of the largest cell manufacturers that are integrated into modules do not sell their cells separately, for instance SolarWorld or Suntech Power, thus limiting the choice for module makers that are not backward integrated into cell manufacturing.
Competition based on differentiation and price
CompetitionThere is an ever-growing number of cell manufacturers, and the industry is not dominated by a few big players in the same way as is true for the polysilicon industry. The top 10 producers in 2008 produced just over 50% of the total. The market leader, Q-Cells, commands a market share of 10%.
Balance Sheet StrengthSpurred on by growing demand, there has been an aggressive expansion of capacity in the past years, most notably in China and Taiwan. Of the 62 companies surveyed by Green Rhino Energy, 26 were based in China and 10 in Taiwan. While the average leverage (long-term debt-to-equity) for the listed companies in this survey was 44%, there are stark differences in balance sheet strenghts. At the weak end of the spectrum, Isofoton operates at 120% leverage and current ratio of 80%, which looks very vulnerable. In contrast, Q-Cells has a 35% leverage and current ratio of 1.93.
Product Differentiation and MarginsThe industry is divided into a technically differentiated, high-efficiency cell segment and a bulk cell production segment with average efficiencies. This is reflected by margins. Median gross margin has fallen from 16.8% in 2007 to 11.5% in June 2009. However, the top cell manufacturers Q-Cells, Trina Solar, Kyocera, Sharp and Yingly enjoy much bigger margins.
Technology StrategyWhile some cell manufacturers, most notably Sharp and Q-Cells, also take stakes in thin-film technologies, others choose to stick to crystalline silicon technology. CentroSolar, for instance, has neither a technically differentiated crystalline-based silicon product, nor does it offer other technologies.
Partner with main alternative product
The main alternative to crystalline cells is thin-film. However, switching costs for manufacturers would be high. Instead, to mitigate the risk, cell manufacturers partner with thin-film producers. Q-Cells, for instance, acquired 93% stake in thin-film developer Calyxo.
Downstream: Fragmented industry of module manufacturers
While some cell manufacturers are forward-integrated into modules, there are many more module- than cell- manufacturers, many of whom have no global presence.
Crystalline Cell Cost Trends
Variable costs (e.g. wafers) dominate costs with 75%. Low-cost wafer contracts are all-important to a low-cost model. Average margins have come down from 22% to 12%.
We have surveyed 62 cell makers world-wide.
With aggressive growth in Asia, we are expecting the top-10 list to change from year to year. However, the structure will probably remain such that there is no one company or five companies that dominate the market.
While companies of all sizes are present in the industry, only mid- to large- cap companies have a significant market share and profitability.
Sales € mill
|Gross profit margin||Debt / Equity|
|Q-Cells||Yes, into wafers and thin-film||Germany||
Biggest cell manufacturer. Monocrystalline cells to 16.8%, multicrystalline cells to 15.2%. For thin-film technologies see Calyxo, Solibro and Sontor
Q-Cells has filed for insolvency inApril 2011.
|Sharp||Yes, into modules||Japan||Crystalline and thin-film (a-Si). Monocrystalline cells 17.5% (modules 14.2%), multicrystalline cells 14.4% (modules 13.7%)||21,447||15.71%||0.78|
|Suntech Power||No||China||With in-house "Pluto Technology" achieve 18% mono-crystalline cell efficiency. Plan to extend to thin-film.||1,389||17.71%||1.51|
|Kyocera||Yes, into modules||Japan||Pioneer in solar technology. Its new d.blue range of modules use special plasma coating to reduce reflection off the glass. Multicrystalline cell efficiency 16.5%||8,501||25.87%||0.04|
|Gintech Energy Corporation||No||Taiwan||Claim to be most efficient c-Si 16.6%. Offer both mono- and multicrystalline cells. 300MW capacity.||346||15.80%||1.36|
|Motech Industries||Yes, into wafers and modules||Taiwan||One of the largest PV cell manufacturers. Monocrystalline efficiency to 18.24%, multicrystalline to 16.5%||499||14.69%||0.41|
|SolarWorld AG||Yes, into modules||Germany||Production capacity 2008: 260MW, Plan for 2010: 700MW. Module efficiency 16% (multi) and 17% (mono). Won the "Highest yield module" Photon award 2008||937||50.06%||0.83|
|Sanyo Component Europe GmbH||Yes, into wafers and modules||Germany||HIT Technology: Thin c-Si with ultra-thin a-Si: Cell efficiency 19%, module efficiency 16.6%||571||0.00|
|Yingli Green Energy||Yes, into wafers and modules||China||200MW for cells, 200MW modules. Plan to increase capacity to 600MW in 2009||797||21.58%||0.83|
|JA Solar Holdings Co||No||China||Monocrystalline cells from 15.5% - 18%; multicrystalline from 14% - 16.5%||576||18.17%||0.43|
|Arise Technologies Corp||Yes, (soon) into polysilicon||Canada||Producer of cells. Plan to produce solar-grade si (7N plus) using patented process by 2009. 20MW 2009, 90MW 2010||22||-44.19%||0.59|
|Astronergy||Yes, into modules||China|
|Beijing Hope Solar New Energy Co||Yes, into wafers and modules||China|
|Big Sun Energy Technology Inc||No||Taiwan||90MW capacity|
|Canadian Solar Inc||Yes, into wafers and modules||China||completed two solar demonstration projects with a combined system size of 29.5 kWp for China’s Suzhou Municipal City Hall||509||10.07%||0.47|
|CentroSolar Group AG||Yes, into wholesale distribution. No technologically differentiated module||Germany||Multi-crystalline cells with efficiency of more than 16%. But not integrated into modules.||338||17.41%|
|Changzou Kinder Industry Co||Yes, into modules||China||Capacity 50MW|
|China Sunergy||No||China||Capacity 320MW. Mono- and multicrystalline cells 16% - 16.8%||253||4.41%||0.96|
|Chinaland Solar Energy Co||Yes, into wafers and modules||China|
|DCH Solar GmbH||Yes, into wafers and modules||Germany|
|Delsolar Co||No||Taiwan||c-Si advanced cells: monocrystalline 17.3%, multicrystalline 16.2%|
|Eoplly New Energy Tehcnology Co||Yes, into modules||China||50MW cells, 200MW modules|
|ersol Solar||Yes, cover the whole value chain from polysilicon to modules||Germany||Specialises in re-cycling of silicon. Wafers are made from polysilicon. Thin-film tech is a-Si. Monocrystalline cells to 17.5%, multicrystalline cells to 16%||175||0.56|
|E-ton Solar Tech||No||Taiwan||440MW capacity. Soon also in thin-film. Have mono-Si cells 16.4% - 18% and poly-Si cells 15.2% - 16.8%||363||14.25%||1.87|
|Ever Energy Co||No||Taiwan||190MW capacity|
|Evergreen Solar||Yes, from wafers to modules||USA||Utilse the Ribbon technology for silicon wafers.||80||16.87%||0.72|
|Great Forest Solar Manufacture||Yes, into modules||China||crystalline Silicon cells / modules|
|Hanwha Chemical Corporation||Not in solar value chain. But part of large chemicals business.||South Korea||Large chemical corporation. New focus on renewables: Hydrogen storage and solar cells with capacity 30MW (2008). Plan to have 1GW eventually. Also plan to integrate into polysilicon and modules.||3,050||15.64%||1.35|
|Hareon Solar||Yes, wafers to modules||China||200MW by 2009 capacity|
|Indosolar Ltd||No||India||c-Si capacity 360MW by 2010|
|Isofoton S.A.||Yes, into modules and further downstream||Spain||Produces mono-crystalline cells (to 17.2%) and modules to 13.8%. Now developing a high-concentration pv module (1000x). Also manufactures solar thermal collectors.||259||1.20|
|Jetion Holding||Yes, from wafers to modules||China||181||16.26%||0.42|
|Jiangsu Shunfeng Photovoltaic Technology||Yes, into modules||China|
|Jiangtsu TianBao PV Energy||Yes, into modules||China|
|Jiangxi Solar PV Corporation||No||China||Capacity 200MW in 2009|
|Jiangxi Trinity Material||Yes, from wafers to modules||China|
|Jupiter Solar Power Ltd||No||India||Newcomer: Planning capacity|
|KPE||Yes, into modules||South Korea||100MW capacity|
|Long Energy||Yes, from wafers to modules||China||Module capacity 80MW|
|Microsol International||No||UAE||Largest cell manufacturer in the Middle East - 100 MW by 2010|
|Mitsubishi Electric||Yes, into modules and electrical components||Japan||High efficiency crystalline Si 18.6%
Plan to increase capacity to 500MW by 2012
|Moser Baer Photo Voltaic Ltd||Yes, into modules||India||Current capacity ~ 200MW. Monocrystalline cells 16.8% (module 12%). Have a-Si technology||26|
|Neo Solar Power Corp||No||Taiwan||Monocrystalline cell efficiency to 17.6%.||222||8.03%||0.74|
|Ningbo Huasheng Solar Energy||Yes, into modules||China|
|Perfectenergy GmbH||Yes, into modules||Germany||Monocrystalline modules to 18% from own cell production line, but cells are not sold separately.|
|Photowatt||Yes, into modules||France||Produce some of the thinnest cells on the market, both mono- and multicrystalline to 17%||140||0.94|
|REC ASA||Yes, from polysilicon to modules||Norway||2008: Capacity: 225MW for cells, 150MW for modules. Plan: 780MW for cells, 740MW for modules. Silicon produciton in USA||909||79.23%||0.40|
|Rineng Zhongtian||Yes, from wafers to modules||China|
|Shanghai Comtec Solar Technology Co||Yes, into wafers||China||Solar ingots and wafers. Also produce chip-grade material|
|Shanghai Topsolar Green Energy Co||Yes, into modules||China||crystalline Silicon cells / modules|
|Shinsung Holding Co||No||South Korea||Newcomer. Want to add 50MW annually|
|Siliken||Yes, from polysilicon to modules||Spain||With Siliken Chemicals, Electronics and Modules produce poly-Si, modules, inverters. Module production 92MW|
|Solar Cells Hellas Group||Yes, from wafers to modules||Greece||Capacity 60MW total|
|Solar_Fabrik AG||Yes, into modules||Germany||217||11.10%||0.30|
|Solarfun Power Holdings||Yes, into modules||China||Produce cells with 17.2% (mono) and 16.2 (multi) efficiencies||522||-0.45%||1.19|
|Solartech Energy Corp||No||Taiwan||105||12.48%||1.86|
|Solland Solar Cells BV||No||The Netherlands||Produces high-efficiecy multicrystalline cells (16.4%). Have achieved world record (in 2009) full-module efficiency of 16.4% with Solland cells (in a lab).|
|STX Solar||No||South Korea||Newcomer in Aug 2008|
|Sunpower Corp||Yes, into modules||USA||Its monocrystalline Solar Panel "315" acheives cell efficiency 22% and a module efficiency of 19.3%!||1,036||25.34%||0.51|
|Sunrise Global Solar Energy Ltd||No||Taiwan|
|Sunways AG||Yes, into modules||Germany||Produces mono- and multicrystalline cells to 17.3%, as well as transparent, coloured crystallines cells (13.9%).||264||12.33%||0.49|
|Tainergy Tech||No||Taiwan||Multi-crystalline solar cells. Plan to reach 1GW capacity by 2014|
|Trina Solar||Yes, from wafers to modules||China||Capacity of 350MW each in wafers and cells. Rapidly expanding globally. Monocrystalline cell 17%, module 16% efficiency.||601||19.77%||0.92|
|Znshine PV-Tech Co||Yes, from wafers to modules||China|