2009 solar-cell capacity to surge 56%

Aug. 15, 2009
AUSTIN, TX--Despite falling end-market demand, market research firm DisplaySearch says that solar-cell manufacturing capacity will surge 56% in 2009.

AUSTIN, TX--Despite falling end-market demand, market research firm DisplaySearch says that solar-cell manufacturing capacity will surge 56% in 2009. The finding is detailed in its Q3 2009 Quarterly PV Cell Capacity Database & Trends Report, which says that the surge will bring the 2009 solar-cell manufacturing capacity to 17 GW.

DisplaySearch has been tracking the solar industry since 2006, covering photovoltaic (PV) solar cells in its newsletters and blogs, providing PV-related custom consulting, and presenting on solar at conferences. “Despite PV module demand shrinking 17% in 2009, so much cell manufacturing equipment was ordered and installed over the past year that capacity is still expected to grow 56% this year,” said Charles Annis, DisplaySearch VP of Manufacturing Research and author of the report. “With demand and capacity moving in different directions, the PV industry is currently experiencing an enormous over-supply that is causing rapid price erosion and potentially setting the stage for the failure of multiple cell manufacturers, particularly companies pursuing a-Si thin film solar cells. The PV industry will begin working through this excess capacity as demand recovers next year and takes off in 2011 and beyond.”

Additional highlights from the report include:

  • Through 2006, Japan had the largest solar cell production capacity in the world. However, Chinese companies started to ramp up a host of new facilities in 2005 and by 2007 had more solar cell capacity on line than any other country.
  • Of the 3.58 GW of thin film capacity available in 2009, more than 30% use 600 5 1200 mm glass substrates, the standard CdTe glass size used by First Solar.
  • Between January 2008 and July 2009, approximately 11.4 GW of new solar cell capacity was installed in fabs around the world. These previous investment commitments are the reason that capacity is continuing to grow 56% in 2009 despite falling demand.
  • In 2005, 95% of solar cell manufacturing capacity was for crystalline silicon solar cells and 5% for thin film solar cells. In 2009, thin film will account for more than 20% of capacity.
  • In terms of capacity available for production in 2009, First Solar is the largest solar cell manufacturer with more than 1 GW of capacity. Q-Cells and Suntech are not far behind and essentially tied for second place.

For more information on the report, send an email to [email protected].

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