The Chinese Solar Machine

21. December 2011

Date: 21-12-2011
Source: Technology Review

Chinese manufacturers have ­dominated the international ­market for conventional solar ­panels by building bigger ­factories faster. Now they will need to ­innovate to maintain their lead.

Ten years ago, solar panels were made mostly in the United States, Germany, and Japan. Chinese manufacturers made almost none. But by 2006, the Chinese company Suntech Power had the capacity to make over a million silicon-based solar panels a year and was already the world’s third-largest producer. Today Chinese manufacturers make about 50 million solar panels a year—over half the world’s supply in 2010—and include four of the world’s top five solar-panel manufacturers. What makes this particularly impressive is that the industry elsewhere has been doubling in size every two years, and Chinese manufacturers have done even better, doubling their production roughly every year. Read the rest of this entry »