Solar panels are one of the leading alternative energy solutions on the market today.
They offer the consumer the chance to save money for a life time, and a chance to help the eco system.
They are sold in many different stores, both online and brick and mortar stores.
If you are looking for a way to help our environment, and lower your bills, this is the way to go.
Thanks to the innovative and creative design techniques employed by solar energy companies, the price of panels are dropping.
With so many different companies competing to make the best possible solar cell, in the end everyone wins.
In this article, we are going to go over the top producers of solar modules(just another name for panels).
First Solar, Inc. is an American manufacturer of thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules, or solar panels, and a provider of PV power plants and supporting services that include finance, construction, maintenance and end-of-life panel recycling.
First Solar uses cadmium telluride (CdTe) as a semiconductor to produce solar panels that are less expensive than those manufactured from crystalline silicon.
In 2009, First Solar became the first solar panel manufacturing company to lower its manufacturing cost to $1 per watt (since reduced to 68 cents per watt).
The company was founded in 1990 by inventor Harold McMaster as Solar Cells, Inc.
In 1999 it was purchased by True North Partners, LLC, who rebranded it as First Solar, Inc. The company went public in 2006, trading on the NASDAQ.
Its current chief executive is James Hughes, who succeeded interim CEO Mike Ahearn on May 3, 2012.
First Solar is based in Tempe, Arizona.
As of 2010, First Solar was considered the second-largest maker of PV modules worldwide, and ranked sixth in Fast Company’s list of the world's 50 most innovative companies.
In 2011, it ranked first on Forbes’s list of America’s 25 fastest-growing technology companies.
As Yingli Green Energy is one of the largest solar PV module manufacturers in the world, over 4 GW of Yingli Solar modules are deployed worldwide.
As of August 2012, Yingli Green Energy reached a balanced vertically integrated production capacity of 2,450 MW per year, making it one of the largest solar module manufacturers in the world in terms of production capacity.
It became the world’s leading solar module supplier by sales revenue and shipments in Q1 2012.
According to some analysts, Yingli Green Energy is likely to become the world’s number one module supplier in terms of full-year module shipments in 2012.
Yingli solar panels operate in major solar projects around the world, including:
• Moura, Portugal Power Plant (Moura, Portugal)
• Huerto Solar Villar de Cañas II (Cuenca, Spain)
• Poggiorsini Power Plant (Poggiorsini (BA), Italy)
• NY Jets Training Facility (New Jersey, U.S.)
• Kaiser Permanent Medical Center (California, U.S.)
• Rutgers University (New Jersey, U.S.)
• Denver International Airport (Colorado, U.S.)
• RRS – Magaldi Group (Salerno, Italy)
• William Patterson University (New Jersey, U.S.)
• Valley Fine Foods (California, U.S.)
• Formula 1 Grand Prix Circuit (Hockenheim, Germany)
• Power Valley Plaza (Baoding, China)
Yingli Solar Panels
Yingli Green Energy manufactures monocrystalline and multicrystalline solar PV modules.
Yingli has experience across the entire PV value chain, from polysilicon production to the assembly of modules.
Its two primary solar module product lines are the monocrystalline PANDA Series and the multicrystalline YGE Series.
Yingli Solar’s PANDA product line was developed through the in-house collaboration between the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN) and Amtech Systems, Inc., two of the world’s leaders in solar power technology, to create a new, highly efficient solar cell.
PANDA modules use n-doped silicon instead of the industry’s standard p-type silicon, allowing a more efficient conversion of infrared light into electricity, and lower initial degradation rate.
As the PANDA product line achieves performance ratings of up to 16.5%, one of the highest in the world, it is best suited to commercial or residential applications where maximum energy output is essential due to space constraints.
Yingli Solar’s YGE Series is its flagship product line.
These multicrystalline modules are claimed to have efficiencies of up to 15.4%, and are used widely across commercial, residential, and utility-scale projects.
Yingli Solar’s manufacturing facilities are located in Baoding, Haikou, Tianjin and Hengshui.
Yingli Americas, a regional subsidiary of Yingli Green Energy, operates a regional research and development lab, the PV Testing Lab (PVTL), in South San Francisco.
The PVTL conducts extensive product characterization and quality control testing, and provides customers with sophisticated system modeling support.
Trina Solar Limited is a Chinese manufacturer of photovoltaic panels, which was founded in 1997 as a system installation company.
Trina Solar's solar panels provide electric power for residential, commercial, industrial and other applications worldwide.
Trina Solar is currently one of the few photovoltaic manufacturers that have developed a vertically integrated supply chain from the production of monocrystalline ingots, wafers and cells to the assembly of high quality modules.
Trina Solar sells its products in Europe and other countries around the globe.
Trina Solar successfully completed its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in December, 2006.
Trina Solar also sponsors the Lotus F1 Team.
Trina Solar is the third largest solar module company in China and the fourth largest solar panel company worldwide.
Trina Solar is also the third largest silicon solar module company in the world. It shipped around four hundred MW of solar panels in 2009.
Sharp Corporpation is a Japanese multinational corporation that designs and manufactures electronic products.
Headquartered in Abeno-ku, Osaka, Japan, Sharp employed around 55,580 people worldwide as of June 2011.
The company was founded in September 1912 and takes its name from one of its founder's first inventions, the Ever-Sharp mechanical pencil, which was invented by Tokuji Hayaka in 1915.
Sharp Corporation is the fifth-largest television manufacturer in the world, after Samsung, LG, Sony, and Panasonic.
Sharp acquired a controlling stake in Pioneer Corporation in 2007.
On 25 June 2009, Sharp and Pioneer agreed to form a joint venture comprising their optical businesses, called "Pioneer Digital Design and Manufacturing Corporation".
Sharp Solar is a supplier of silicon photovoltaic (PV) solar cells and offers a solar TV.
In Q1 2010, the company made the highest revenues from production of solar PV systems.
SunPower Corporation designs and manufactures high-efficiency crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, roof tiles and solar panels based on a silicon all-back-contact solar cell invented at Stanford University.
SunPower Corporation is publicly traded on the NASDAQ as SPWR (formerly SPWRA and SPWRB).
SunPower Corporation is a component of the Dow Jones Oil and Gas Index DJUSEN.
SunPower 125mm-wide single-crystal silicon solar cells are based on a rear-contact design that eliminates front-side metallization, maximizes the working cell area, eliminates redundant wires and makes automated production easier.
Forming the junction at the rear of the cell, combined with a clever surface treatment, allows it to trap much more of the available photons into mobile electrons—yielding a jump in efficiency.
The cell employs several other tricks to boost efficiency, including an oxide passivisation layer on the backside to deny regions for unwanted hole-electron recombination.
On June 23, 2010, SunPower Corp announced that it has produced a full-scale solar cell with sunlight to electricity conversion efficiency of 24.2 percent at its manufacturing plant in the Philippines.
This is a new world record, confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), for large area silicon wafers.
Hanwha SolarOne, Ltd. is a Chinese manufacturer of photovoltaic cells and panels.
They are ranked seventh largest producer in the world.
Hanwha SolarOne was renamed after Hanwha Group (one of Korea’s top conglomerates) took over China-based Solarfun Power Holdings, a leading manufacturer of photovoltaic modules in 2010.
Solarfun Power Holding first listed on NASDAQ in 2006 (SOLF) and relisted as Hanwha SolarOne (HSOL) in 2011.
By the end of 2010, Hanwha SolarOne had annual module manufacturing capacity of 900 MW, cell manufacturing capacity of 600 MW, and ingot/wafer manufacturing capacity of 400MW.
They also had a capacity of 15 MW for automated building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).
The Renewable Energy Corporation
The Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) is a solar power company with headquarters in Norway.
REC produces silicon materials for photovoltaics (PV) applications and multicrystalline wafers, as well as solar cells and modules.
REC's business activities are organized into three divisions: REC Silicon, REC Solar, and REC Wafer.
In 2007, REC decided to build its new worldscale integrated solar manufacturing facility in Singapore, the world’s largest integrated solar manufacturing complex.
When completed, the manufacturing complex was planned to incorporate wafer, cell and module production facilities, with a production capacity of up to 1.5 gigawatts (GW).
The development of this site was projected to enable REC’s ability to deliver solar products that can compete with traditional energy sources in the sunny areas of the world without government incentives.
In August 2008 REC made the decision to build a new facility for silicon manufacturing expansion in Bécancour, Quebec, Canada.
Included in the decision is a 20-year power contract with Hydro-Québec for the delivery of electricity at a competitive industrial rate.
Suniva Inc. is a U.S. manufacturer of high-efficiency silicon solar cells and high-power solar modules.
Suniva's corporate headquarters and manufacturing plant, with a capacity of 170 MW, are located in Norcross, Georgia.
Suniva announced in February 2011 that it is using ion implantation in the manufacture of its ARTisun Select solar cells.
The company partnered with Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates to eliminate processing steps in the mass production of n-type cells.
ARTisun Series 3bus – Efficiencies of 17.4% to 18.2%
ARTisun Select – Efficiencies of 18.2% to 19.2%
ART245-60 Monocrystalline Solar Module - Module efficiency conversion of 15+%
Optimus 260 Monocrystalline Solar Module - Delivers module efficiency conversion of 16.0+
Spectrolab is a manufacturer of space solar cells and panels headquartered in Sylmar, California.
It is a subsidiary of The Boeing Company, and part of Boeing Defense, Space & Security.
Spectrolab was founded in 1956 by Alfred E. Mann, who has gone on to become a billionaire American entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Spectrolab was acquired by Hughes Aircraft Company in 1975 and became a subsidiary of Hughes until its sale to Boeing in 2000.
The company states its "NeXt Triple Junction" high efficiency solar cells have a minimum average efficiency of 29.5% to AIAA-2005-111 and AIAA-2005-112 requirements.
In 2006 testing at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory demonstrated an efficiency of 40.7% using triple-junction solar cells developed by Spectrolab.
Spectrolab has recently geared its highly efficient space solar cell technology for terrestrial purposes with great success using concentrators.
Spectrolab's terrestrial products are the most efficient solar cells currently available in the market.
SoloPower is a solar energy company developing and manufacturing Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) Thin-film flexible Photo-voltaic Solar Panels.
The company uses a special electroplating technology to utilize nearly 100% of its materials.
SoloPower is based in San Jose, California, and has achieved the distinction of being the first company to obtain UL Certification of CIGS flexible solar panels in 2010.
This was lauded as a significant achievement by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Later the same year, the company also received IEC Certification (IEC 61646 and 61730) of its flexible CIGS solar panels, again an industry first.
March 2012, the company's modules set a world record aperture efficiency of
13.4% for flexible CIGS Solar Panels, as measured by NREL.