IMS Research has released its latest quarterly report which reveals that 4 out of the top 5 module manufacturers are based in China, thus confirming the country's increasing focus on and dedication to the solar industry. The Chinese government is keen to expand its solar power sector and has set new targets to achieve growth. During the period of its latest five-year plan (2005-10) the country's production of solar panels grew by over 100 percent annually, with 90 percent of products being exported to the US and Europe.
For the second consecutive year, the Chinese company Suntech Power has occupied the top place as the world's biggest solar PV module manufacturer having been the first company to have reached a module production level of 2 GW. Close behind Suntech Power is US company First Solar which manufactures thin film but the remaining players in the top five are all Chinese – Yingli Green Energy, Trina and Canadian Solar. Although the latter is based in Canada, most of its operations are in China and therefore classed as Chinese by IMS. Jinko Solar is the only new company on the IMS top ten list and stands at seventh place having doubled its exports in 2011. Other manufacturers in the IMS list include Sharp, SunPower, Hanwha, SolarOne and Kyocera.
The IMS report also revealed that there had been considerable consolidation within the industry last year. Sam Wilkinson, senior market analyst, said "Leading suppliers were able to leverage their strong brands to grow their shipments in highly competitive market conditions in 2011,[The year] claimed a number of victims, but nearly all of the top-ten suppliers grew their shipments and collectively they accounted for nearly half of total industry shipments."
Despite 8 out of the top ten manufacturers recording an increase in shipments of more than 10 percent, IMS also found that most others had seen lower figures during the last quarter of 2011.
China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is aiming for a production capacity among the country's leading polysilicon manufacturers of 50,000 tons by 2015 with an expection of top solar panel manufacturers to reach 5 GW. It wants 80 percent of solar equipment and auxiliary materials to be made in China.