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Global solar PV cell production grew 51 percent in 2009

June 02, 2010 // Paul Buckley

Global solar PV cell production grew 51 percent in 2009

Strategic analyst for the global renewable energy industry, GTM Research has released a research note that estimates global photovoltaic cell production grew by 51 percent in 2009.

PV cell production rose from 7.1 GW in 2008 to 10.7 GW in 2009. PV panel production also increased by 41 percent over 2008 to 8.9 GW.

The bulk of these panels ended up being deployed in Germany in the third and fourth quarters of 2009, with the threat of upcoming subsidy cuts and steep declines in panel prices driving an unprecedented installation volume of 1.3 GW in the last quarter of the year.

The bumper result masks the reality of 2009 being the most challenging year for PV suppliers in recent memory.

"On one hand, you had severe oversupply and drastic price drops causing large losses, major layoffs, and consolidation all across the value chain. On the other hand, it was yet another record-breaking year in manufacturing thanks to Germany's late surge: whereas in January, top manufacturers were reportedly running at factory utilizations of less than 20 percent, October through December saw the same companies' supplies being completely sold out. To call it a volatile year would be an understatement," said GTM Research Senior Analyst Shyam Mehta.

Fifty percent of the cells produced in 2009 came from China and Taiwan; this is a far cry from just five years ago, when European and Japanese firms combined to make up over three-fourths of the market. Crystalline silicon still dominates the PV technology landscape, with a cell and panel production share of 81 percent and 78 percent, respectively. At the same time, thin film market share in 2009 continued to increase, from 15 percent of panels produced in 2008 to 22 percent in 2009, and for the first time ever, a thin-film producer (cadmium telluride-based First Solar) claimed the title as the largest cell/panel manufacturer. The list of the top ten global cell and panel manufacturers is as follows:

Top Ten Global Cell Manufacturers

1. First Solar (U.S.)

2. Suntech Power (China)

3. Sharp (Japan)

4. Q-Cells (Germany)

5. Yingli Green Energy (China)

6. JA Solar (China)

7. Kyocera (Japan)

8. Trina Solar (China)

9. SunPower (U.S.)

10. Gintech (Taiwan)

Top Ten Global Panel Manufacturers

1. First Solar (U.S.)

2. Suntech Power (China)

3. Sharp (Japan)

4. Yingli Green Energy (China)

5. Kyocera (Japan)

6. Trina Solar (China)

7. SunPower (U.S.)

8. Canadian Solar (China)

9. Solarfun (China)

10. SolarWorld (Germany)

Related link:

Solar energy market to grow 43 percent in 2010 despite oversupply challenges

Solar PV expert forecasts steady growth for UK solar cell market

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