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Value Chain Activity: Manufacturing Crystalline Modules

Module manufacturing involves putting together the cells onto glass or other substrate and connecting the cells to form an electric circuit. This is the last manufacturing step before it is distributed to wholesalers. Many module manufacturers also either manufacture their own range of inverters or offer electrical components as part of the package. As competition from thin-film becomes more fierce, product innovation will be key to success in future.

Industry Context and the Top-10

Due to the almost perfect integration with the cells manufacturing business, the industry dynamics are also the same. There is no doubt that the Top-10 (by production capacity) dominate the market. Interestingly, those Top-10 companies are remarkably similar in size. This is very different to the thin-film segment where First Solar has a tremendous lead over all others.

In module manufacturing, the drop in demand in 2009 has meant that the average margins have dropped from 14% to 11%. The production costs excluding the costs for the cells are just $0.25 per Watt, which is significantly less than the production costs for wafers or cells. In fact, 90% of the total cost of a module is due to the cells. This is probably one reason why there are so many more module companies.

Companies

 

This is a selected list of module manufacturers. It is not intended to be a complete list, though it captures a good cross-section of this segment of the value chain.

Name Country Details
China Jinko Solar is the world's largest pv manufacturer. Specialities include half-cells (may increase performance under shading), bifacial and circular ribbons.
China
China
China Unlike many of its competitors, Longi Solar is not forward-integrated into project development.
Canada Forward-integrated into inverters, EPC and project development
South Korea Q-Cells was once the world's largest cell manufacturer. Now part of Hanwha.
China Apart from crystalline modules, Risen also offers hetero-junction technologies
China
Hong Kong Owners of Wuxi Suntech, which produces Suntech-branded modules.
China
Denmark This is an example of a niche manufacturer specializing in coloured modules.

 

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