Free Solar Farms

The PV market will continue to consolidate but, so growth will continue, and prices for all of the main technologies will continue to drop.

 - The roof of Michelin's plant in Karlsruhe, Germany, has nearly a megawatt of solar on it, and the company's carport adds another 800 kilowatts.  Photo: Sputnik Engineering

The roof of Michelin’s plant in Karlsruhe, Germany, has nearly a megawatt of solar on it, and the company’s carport adds another 800 kilowatts.Photo: Sputnik Engineering

At the beginning of 2012, it is already clear that the forecast for market consolidation will hold true. Berlin-based Solon, one of the first players on the market, filed for bankruptcy at the end of the year, as did Solar Millennium, Which failed to transition from concentrated solar power to photovoltaics. Over in Ontario, Arise Solar Technologies, a manufacturer of crystalline solar cells in Waterloo, then threw in the towel, and Schott Solar cell production closed in Alzenau, Germany.

In the Netherlands, sold its cell manufacturer Solland cell plans in Heerven at the beginning of January. Even the biggest players are tightening their belts, seeking as Norway’s RAC, Which reduced wafer production in Glomfyord, and while SolarWorld is limiting its capacity and focusing its production within the U.S. on Hillsboro, where Solyndra and Evergreen Solar are still on everyone’s mind

Other signs of consolidation include the takeover of Hamburg-based manufacturer inverter volt solar works by Bosch. Voltwerk what part of the Conergy Group, Which is also struggling. The deal put desperately needed liquidity into the firm’s bank accounts, though the actual purchase price was not revealed. But the sale only gives some breathing room, Conergy, it does not solve all of its problems.

Global Boom

The other shiny side of the coin is that 2011 saw a breakthrough for the market in Asia, Australia, and North America. The plummeting price of photovoltaics has given firm’s giant international markets, especially for utility-scale projects. As a result, panel manufacturers are joining forces with project developers or coming up with their own EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) departments. As Conergy and Q-Cells with their demo strated large solar farms in Asia, this combination holds the key to the future of Western solar manufacturers. And will this trend continue, not only internationally. (Heiko Schwarz Burger / Craig Morris)

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