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Published on March 28th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Worldwide Solar Cell Production in 2011 = 37.2 GW (Up 36%)

March 28th, 2012 by  

solar cell production 2012

While it didn’t grow as fast as the previous year, global PV cell production still grew and hit a considerable 37.2 GW in 2011, 36% more than the 27.4 GW produced in 2010.

While that 36% growth may still sounds like a lot, and it is, it’s quite a bit less than the 120% growth spurt in the sector in 2010, PHOTON International notes in its discussion of its annual survey. Going even further, it notes that “the 2011 cell output was the PV industry’s lowest growth rate since a 34-percent increase in 2003.”

Other findings include:

  • Asian companies continue to dominate the sector, with 6 of the top 10 producers coming out of China and 2 out of Taiwan.
  • The top solar cell producer for the 2nd year in a row was Suntech Power.
  • This is the first year that there wasn’t a European or Japanese company in the top 10.
  • The remaining two solar cell producers are from the U.S., First Solar and SunPower. While they are likely to remain in the top 10 in 2012, it’s projected they will fall a bit on the ladder and move more production to Asia.
  • “In 2008, only 33 percent of solar cells were made in China, a share that grew to an impressive over 57 percent in 2011.”

“The days of solar cell production in western countries are numbered,” says Michael Schmela, editor-in-chief of PHOTON International. “Like other commodities, solar cell production will continue its rapid shift to low-labor-cost countries in Asia, especially China.”

Not everyone has come to that conclusion yet. I’ve seen word that some Chinese companies, following the introduction of new tariffs on imports, are looking to move solar production to the U.S., the #1 country for solar energy investment attractiveness according to Ernst & Young. Though, that is yet to be confirmed.

Despite plenty of supply and some inevitable cuts in demand in some leading solar countries, solar cell production is still projected to increase considerably in 2012.

“Cell producers are still predicting a combined production of around 52.5 GW in 2012 — a 41-percent growth year-on-year. Overall, they are planning to increase capacities by 19 percent to around 69 GW in 2012, after raising capacity by 57 percent to nearly 58 GW by the end of 2011.”

Source: Photon
Image: Solar cells courtesy shutterstock 


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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.

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