Asian electronics giants are aiming for large slice of PV pie

February 17, 2011 // By Paul Buckley
Market analyst, IMS Research is predicting that Asia's share of PV cell production will reach nearly 85% by the end of 2011 with Asian electronics giants such as Samsung and LG continuing to enter the growing PV market and transferring their expertise in other cost-driven fields with the aim of capturing a major share of the market.

IMS Research says that although the market is currently rife with fears of a module oversupply, these large Taiwanese and Korean electronics suppliers, such as Samsung, LG, AUO and Taiwan Semiconductor have all recently announced expansion plans for their solar business segments.     

IMS Research predicts that following the rapid PV cell and module capacity increases in 2010 when demand boomed in major European markets, lower incentive rates and the slowing of installation growth, will lead to an oversupply of PV modules in 2011. In particular, small Tier 2 suppliers are predicted to be most affected, with larger Tier 1 suppliers still able to sell the majority of their products.     
The long-term outlook remains positive and IMS Research forecasts that total industry demand will continue to grow at double-digit rates on average for the next four years. As a result, a continuous stream of hopeful new entrants exists, and IMS Research predicts that the most successful are likely to be the consumer electronics manufacturers joining the pack.

AUO Optronics, a Taiwanese supplier most known for its flat-panel displays recently broke ground on a 1.4 GW cell production joint venture with SunPower.  LCD TV giant, Samsung also recently announced a joint-venture producing polysilicon with MEMC, further expanding its activities in the solar industry, and although not a consumer electronics company,  Taiwan Semiconductor is planning to begin offering both thin film and crystalline modules before long following its investments and partnerships with Motech, Stion and Centrosolar.

  

“The expertise of these large Asian suppliers at large-scale production in similar fields and their willingness and ability to invest significant capital is likely to mean that they are able to quickly reach low-cost and high-volume production, and they certainly have the potential to be serious competition for today's market leaders within a few years,” commented PV Research Analyst Sam Wilkinson. “Many suppliers are currently experiencing a lull in shipments, and it is likely