With more people choosing to use clean renewable energy sources over non-renewable ones, there has been an uptrend in solar panel production. So who makes solar panels to meet that growing demand? According to a list released by Forbes, China leads the world for countries that make solar panels, followed by Canada and America. You might recognise some of the names on this list that include Trina Solar and Yingli Green Energy from China, Canadian Solar from Canada, First Solar and Sun Power from America.
A few years back, the solar industry faced a downturn and during that period the supply of solar panels exceeded the demand by a growing margin. This downturn caused some of the solar manufacturers to close their doors while others became more efficient. The solar goliaths who makes solar panels trimmed their production costs during that phase and took the opportunity to overhaul their production systems. China emerged at the top during this phase by cutting its prices while the market eroded sales.
The solar and renewables industry started getting an advantage of the lower panel prices and subsidies being generated from many governments. Post-2015, the solar panel industry has been experiencing an upsurge in the demand which has benefited the existing manufacturers.
Renewable Energy Market
The US dominated the world solar technology for many years after 1950, when the first usable solar cells were introduced to the world, courtesy of Bell Laboratories. Oil pricing played a strategic role in displacing the US from the top position in solar energy, although the US still has dominance in wind energy technology.
In 2018, according to the statistics issued by the International Energy Agency, the US is currently among the top five producer countries who makes solar panels along with Japan and Germany. However, even though the US is listed among the top producers, the actual solar panel production for these US solar companies happens elsewhere.
The Quality of the Solar Panels and its Dependence on the Place of Production
When you are purchasing a solar panel, its quality is of paramount importance to you, the buyer. The brand name or the name of the manufacturer and the country where the manufacture takes place, speaks a lot about the quality of the panel. You might do some research about the manufacturers before selecting a few products to make the final choice of which panels to buy. You want reputation for quality to be a benchmark and then start looking at other aspects like the price.
Some buyers have predetermined preferences like being country-specific for the product or they align the perceived panel quality with a known brand name and the manufacturing country. For instance, many Americans would prefer to buy a USA company manufactured imported solar panel over a foreign company’s imported panel, even if it means the same actual quality and compromising a little on price.
On the other hand some buyers choose panels based on the reputation of whichever company is the top manufacturer in the industry. It matters to them about who makes solar panels whether that company is inside or outside the US and irrespective of the price.
USA vs Imported Solar Panels
A US made solar panel would fall into the price bracket of $0.50 to $0.80 per watt (W). That figure is about $0.10 to $0.30 more per watt than the price of the imported panels. You may find premium quality US made solar panels for up to $1.00/W too. An additional $0.30/W for solar panels means paying an additional $1,800 more for your system if you are buying solar panels for a standard 6kW system. If you believe in buying Made-in-America products, then you are happy that the extra bucks support the home country manufactured solar panel.
Amongst the rebates offered for setting up your solar power system, there are state government rebates available targeting buyers of locally-made panels. So those rebates off set some of the extra money that you paid for the local solar panel.
You might have other reasons besides brand loyalty or a desire to support domestic manufacturing jobs for buying local products. Many people trust the quality of US made products and believe they are superior technology. You might simply have selected the local product that seems cheaper after the recent 30% tariff on imported solar cells and panel.
Click here to view an expert opinion article on why it is important for the buyer to know who makes solar panels.
List of Solar Panel Manufactures In USA
Some of the U.S. solar panel manufacturers are:
- Heliene – Mountain Iron, MN (U.S. manufacturing facility)
- Tesla/Panasonic – Buffalo, NY (U.S. manufacturing facility)
- Seraphim – Jackson, MS (U.S. headquarters)
- Itek Energy – Bellingham, WA
- Suniva – Norcross, GA
- Mission Solar – San Antonio, TX
- SolarWorld Americas – Hillsboro, OR
- Solaria – Fremont, CA (U.S. headquarters)
- SunSpark – Riverside, CA
- SolarTech Universal – Riviera Beach, FL
Who Makes Solar Panels And Their Market Share
Many companies in this list simply assemble their solar panels in the U.S. The key components for the panels are imported from other countries. These components miss the solar tariff of thirty percent, which has been imposed by the Trump Government. There is a exemption for the first 2.5 gigawatts (GW) of solar cells imported each year.
Note that some companies in this list of US-based solar manufacturers, are either headquartered outside America or are merely subsidiaries of non- US manufacturers. However, these companies manufacture a small percentage of their total production in American factories. Let’s have a closer look at the market players in this arena.
Top Solar Panel Manufacturers In The World
The company was founded in 1988 and is headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon. They make it to the list of top companies in solar production because of having the largest solar cell production facility in the US. This facility is used for the production of their mono-crystalline solar panels.
Being the industry leaders, Solar World adheres to strict workmanship and quality standards. Their panels are sturdy and can sustain extreme weather conditions like blizzards, strong winds, and even hailstorms.
Solar World panels offer a twenty year warranty period on their solar panels. A long warranty period give the customer confidence about proceeding with their buying decision. Solar World, along with Suniva (another US company), had asked the US government to consider imposing tariffs on imported solar panels.
Sun Power offers solar products that are on a higher price pedestal than their counterparts but they rank equally high on the efficiency and quality parameters. The panels are capable of generating more power in less space available. Maxeon solar cell, which is their flagship product, is rated to be highly efficient and durable.
Sun Power solar cells have redefined the bland look of the dark blue exterior with grid lines offered by most solar panels, through their innovative designs.
They offer a twenty-five year warranty period on their silicon cells solar panels, giving a high conversion rate of 24%.
Panasonic recently partnered with two Gigafactories of Tesla, one of which is for battery manufacture and the other is to make solar panels and tiles. The two mega companies have joined their technological advancements to give some amazing products to the world.
Tesla Powerwall and Tesla Solar Roofs are a testament to the advanced solar technology being infused into the US solar panel market by Tesla.
Tesla products are not cheap but the brand name gives you assurance of quality and upgraded technology.
Heliene is a Canada based solar panel maker. Although most of its solar panels are manufactured in Ontario, Canada, Heliene also have a manufacturing facility in Minnesota.
Any Minnesota solar system owner who buys any state manufactured solar panels receives a cash payment under the ‘Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program’. Heliene Solar panels are covered under this scheme.
Trina Solar is the largest crystalline silicon solar panel manufacturer in the world. The company was set up in 1997 and has since become the world leader in this industry.
They have their manufacturing base in Jiangsu, China from where they supply the solar panels to the world.
Yingli Solar is another Chinese conglomerate that gives stiff competition to Trina Solar Headquartered in Baoding, China the company has captured the market in around 90 countries across the globe. China, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Germany, and the US are some of its prime markets. Yingli Solar is known for manufacturing panels that can withstand diverse geographical conditions.
Canadian Solar Inc.
Canadian Solar is a solar panels manufacturer having a presence in almost 90 countries worldwide. Their factory is in Ontario, Canada but the large chunk of their production takes place in China.
Canadian Solar made a mark in the solar industry with their product Dymond CS6X-P-FG. It is a 72 cell double-glass module which has rendered the polymer back sheet redundant.
Headquartered in Shanghai, China, Jinko Solar has sales and marketing offices in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, the United States, Canada, South Africa, and Japan. Jinko Solar produces high-efficiency solar panel modules. This manufacturing is done in its five production facilities in China, Malaysia, Portugal, and South Africa. Jinko Solar is known for its superior manufacturing techniques.
First Solar Inc.
First Solar manufactures rigid thin film modules and Cd-Te based thin film panels. They also known for installation and commissioning of utility-scale PV power plants. First Solar also provides ancillary services like financing, maintenance, and recycling of solar panels.
The Future Position For The US Solar Industry
The US government has imposed tariffs on solar cell imports. It was an action purported to safeguard the US solar industry. The U.S. International Trade Commission deduced that the unfairly (low) priced solar cell imports were a threat to the US industry. Imposing tariffs will increase the price of the imported solar panels but actually the result will be a drop in competitiveness for solar and for the solar installation industry. Higher prices will have an adverse effect on the demand for solar panels generally.
A 30-percent tariff on panels will raise the cost of a solar installation by about 10 percent or 11 cents per watt. That can impact the payback period and the tipping point for when to purchase panels. You can expect the amount of solar power generation capacity installed over the next 4 years to fall by 5-8 gigawatts as a direct result of this tax on panels.