Top 5 Non-Chinese Solar Manufacturers Disrupting China’s Stronghold

Highlights :

  • Non-Chinese solar modules manufacturers, such as Waaree Energies, Canadian Solar, First Solar, Vikram Solar, and Qcells are leading a charge against Chinese dominance.
Top 5 Non-Chinese Solar Manufacturers Disrupting China’s Stronghold

Non-Chinese solar manufacturers are making significant strides across various regions, challenging the long-standing dominance of Chinese companies in the solar market. Currently, China leads the world in solar panel manufacturing, with major players like JA Solar, Trina Solar, and JinkoSolar at the forefront. Chinese companies control over 80 per cent of the global market share in all production stages, including polysilicon, ingots, wafers, cells, and modules. According to the latest rankings by Wood Mackenzie, nine of the top twelve solar module manufacturers are Chinese. China’s total production capacity far exceeds its own share of global photovoltaic (PV) demand, underscoring its overwhelming dominance in solar exports and outpacing most other nations by a considerable margin.

However, recent policies in countries such as the USA, Canada, India, and South Korea have bolstered their domestic solar industries. Although these non-Chinese solar module manufacturers currently hold less than 20 per cent of the global market capacity, they are rapidly expanding to bridge the gaps. Here we identify the top 5 of these emerging giants based on production capacity that stand out are as follows:

#1 Canadian Solar (Canada)

Established in 2001, Canadian Solar is a global leader with a current production capacity of 14 GW and plans to expand to 20 GW by 2026. The company is renowned for its diverse range of high-efficiency modules, including bifacial and monocrystalline silicon PV modules.

Canadian Solar has secured several significant projects, such as a 500 MW solar plant in Brazil, and is actively expanding its solar-plus-storage solutions, reflecting its strong market presence and technological innovation. As trade battles intensify, Canadian Solar’s robust global operations and innovative approach make it a pivotal player in the industry.

#2 First Solar (USA)

First Solar specialises in thin-film solar panels that are highly efficient in high-temperature and humid environments. The firm, founded in 1999, now boasts a current production capacity of 12.7 GW and plans to expand to 20 GW by 2025, targeting to achieve a production capacity of 25 GW by 2026.

The company is expanding its manufacturing footprint with new facilities in Ohio and India and has secured a 2.4 GW supply agreement with Origis Energy in the U.S., highlighting its leading position in the market. First Solar has committed to powering 100 per cent of its global manufacturing operations with renewable energy by 2028 and achieving Net Zero by 2050. It has also made its entry into India PLI scheme and enlisted as the only US-based entity with thin film capacity enlisted under the Approved Lists of Module Manufacturers (ALMM). This enlisting allows the advantage to First Solar to supply their solar modules to the government sponsored solar projects in India.

#3 Waaree Energies (India)

Waaree Energies is among the largest solar module manufacturer in India, and the world, with a production capacity of 12 GW, targeting 20 GW by 2025. The company is ahead of other Indian competitors in terms of their ALMM enlisted capacity. Besides Vikram Solar, Waaree is the only other India PV firm which has planned a solar module manufacturing plant in the United States to reap in the benefits of the US Inflation Act.

The company offers a wide range of high-efficiency PV modules, including bifacial and half-cut cells. Waaree recently announced a strategic partnership to supply 500 MW of solar modules to a leading European energy provider, demonstrating its growing global influence and technological prowess. Waaree’s expansion reflects India’s rising prominence in the global solar market and its potential to become a major player in renewable energy.

#4 Qcells (South Korea)

Coming from South Korea, Qcells is known for its advanced Q.ANTUM technology, which enhances efficiency and reliability. Qcells has made significant investments in the U.S. market.

In January 2023, Qcells announced the largest investment in U.S. solar history, aiming to establish a complete and sustainable solar supply chain in the United States. With this initiative, Qcells will achieve a production capacity of 8.4 GW by 2024 and create 4,000 clean energy jobs. The company is investing $2.5 billion to build new manufacturing facilities and enhance research and development capabilities. This strategic expansion highlights Qcells’ commitment to reducing dependence on Chinese solar components and strengthening its position in the global market.

#5 Vikram Solar (India)

Another impactful non-Chinese solar manufacturer from the South Asian giant, Vikram Solar boasts a production capacity of 3.5 GW, with plans to reach 7 GW by 2025. The company provides comprehensive PV solutions, including high-efficiency mono PERC modules.

Vikram Solar has secured multiple projects both in India and internationally and has received significant tenders from the Indian government to develop solar infrastructure, reinforcing its position as a key player in the renewable energy sector. As India ramps up its renewable energy ambitions, players like Vikram Solar are bound to further deepen their roots in the global market, specially considering India’s hope to become self-sufficient and a net exporter in the segment.

Special Mention: Adani Solar

Adani Solar (India), part of the diversified Adani Group, made strides in the renewable energy in last few years and currently has a production capacity of 4 GW, with plans to expand to 10 GW by 2027. Known for its strong integration with large-scale renewable projects across India, Adani Solar is involved in establishing the world’s largest solar power plant in Tamil Nadu. Adani Solar is one of the very few India players which has committed to develop backward integration in solar module manufacturing. It has now planned to develop ingots, wafers and polysilicon, the crucial components in the manufacturing of solar cells for which India had been historically dependent on China and was possible only through imports.

The company is actively expanding its renewable energy portfolio with several large-scale solar projects. Adani Solar’s rapid growth and strategic investments position it as a crucial upcoming player in the global solar industry.

As trade battles intensify and geopolitical tensions rise, especially amid the ongoing trade war with China, non-Chinese solar module manufacturers are increasing their domestic capacities. Globally, there is a growing desire to reduce reliance on Chinese manufacturing in this volatile geopolitical climate. As part of President Biden’s Investing in America initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $71 million investment in research, development, and demonstration projects to expand the network of domestic manufacturers within the U.S. solar energy supply chain. This includes $16 million from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Similarly, India is shifting its focus toward Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) solar modules to replace Chinese dominance in its market with homegrown products.

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Junaid Shah

Junaid holds a Master of Engineering degree in Construction & Management. Being a civil engineering postgraduate and using his technical prowess, he has channeled his passion for writing in the environmental niche.