Chinese solar panel makers have supplanted international rivals and now command a dominant position in the global market.
Massive amounts of investment have helped Chinese companies increase production and drive down costs. They now control more than 70% of the global market. But fierce competition and policy changes around the world mean the field is fraught with risk, and businesses that have risen to the top have quickly run into trouble.
Experienced technicians can put together a panel in about a minute.
China’s solar panel market took off after the government introduced a feed-in tariff scheme for renewable energy in 2011. The country now accounts for around about half of global solar panel demand.
Prices for Chinese solar panels are 20% to 30% lower than those of Japanese manufacturers.
Eight out of the world’s top 10 solar panel makers are Chinese, according to IHS Markit. China is by far the world’s biggest producer with a 71% market share. Second-ranked South Korea trails far behind, at 7%, according to Tokyo-based solar power consultancy RTS.
“Many Chinese companies enjoyed the latecomer’s advantage,” said Izumi Kaizuka of RTS. When they first began making solar panels, Chinese companies bought manufacturing equipment from Germany and Japan, gradually replacing this with domestic equipment. Because they can use the newest and most efficient gear, latecomers gain a cost edge.