The following table is the top 10 photovoltaic device suppliers in 2008:
Another research firm, iSuppli, ranked the top 20 global solar companies in Q1-2008 by production in 2007 and by announced production capacity 2010:
Top 10 Suppliers of PV Manufacturing Supplier in 2008 by VLSI Research:
The following is summarized from IC Insights Research Bulletin 2009 report Solar Energy: Growth Opportunities for the Semiconductor Industry:
1. Japan’s suppliers of solar PV cells and panels, which dominated the industry for many years, slipped in the supplier rankings in 2008.
2. Sharp was the No. 1 PV device supplier in 2006 and for several years before that but was overtaken by Q-Cells and Suntech Power Holdings in 2007. First Solar blew past both Sharp and Suntech, pushing Sharp down to No. 4 in 2008 rankings, which are based on peak-megawatt value of the PV devices produced and sold by each supplier.
3. Sharp was not the only Japanese supplier whose position declined in the 2008 ranking. Kyocera Corp. slipped from the No. 5 spot in 2007 to No. 6 in 2008. Sanyo, which was No. 7 in 2007, did not make top 10 in 2008. Mitsubishi also dropped in the ranking.
4. Future rankings are expected to show significant changes due to small increments that separate the top players. The top 4 suppliers all achieved market share (based on MW sales) between 8.0% and 9.5%. A second tier of suppliers, formed by those ranked No. 5 to No. 10, have between 4% and 5% market share.
5. Other than First Solar, the risers in the top 10 list were exclusively suppliers based in China or Taiwan. Although Suntech slipped from No. 2 to No. 3, JA Solar Holdings rose from No. 10 to No. 7 in based on 109% growth in MW sales in 2008. Yingli Green Energy Holding advanced from No. 9 to No. 8 on the strength of 93% growth.
6. In Taiwan, Motech Industries moved from No. 6 to No. 5 thanks to a 67% increase in MW sales. But perhaps more impressive was the performance of Gintech Energy, which equaled First Solar’s growth of 144% in MW sales in 2008, pulling itself up from No. 12 to No. 8.
7. Gintech, like JA Solar, makes solar cells only; these 2 companies follow the business model of top-ranked Q-Cells, which has only recently started to diversify beyond pure-play PV cell manufacturing. Other suppliers are involved in panel manufacturing, system installations, and other aspects of the solar value chain.
8. No. 10 Solar World AG, a German company that holds the distinction of being the biggest manufacturer of PV cells in the U.S., thanks to the recent expansion of its plant in Hillsboro, Oregon.
9. A U.S.-headquartered cell manufacturer, SunPower, almost made it into the top 10 in 2008, but SunPower manufactures its cells in plants in the Philippines.
Comment: Chinese and Taiwanese rise up in the ranking as they are able to compete on cost, unlike Germany and Japan. I post here a map of PV manufacturer locations in China. Not sure how dated is the map but if you’re looking for JA Solar, you should look for “Jing Ao Solar” in the map: