JinkoSolar Holding was the leading company for global solar photovoltaic (PV) module shipments in 2017. The company had shipments of 9.7 gigawatts (GW) of PV modules compared to Trina Solar’s 9.1 GW, keeping its rival in second place.

Table 1: Solar PV market, global, wind turbine manufacturer ranking, 2017

2017 ranking Solar PV manufacturer Change vs 2016 2016 shipments 2017 shipments Market Share, 2017 (%)
1 Jinko Solar Holding Co., Ltd. 6.65 9.70 9.86%
2 Trina Solar Limited 6.43 9.10 9.25%
3 JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd       +1 5.10 7.50 7.62%
4 Canadian Solar -1 5.07 6.85 6.96%
5 Hanwha Q CELLS Co., Ltd. 4.90 5.40 5.49%
6 GCL System Integration Technology Co., Ltd. 4.80 4.60 4.67%
7 Lerri Solar Technology Co. Ltd. New 0.80 4.40 4.47%
8 Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited 2.15 2.65 2.69%
9 First Solar Inc. -2 2.85 2.60 2.64%
10 Risen Energy Co., Ltd. New 2.50 2.54%
11 Shunfeng Photovoltaic International Limited -1 1.50 2.50 2.54%
12 Talesun Solar Germany GmbH -2 1.55 2.35 2.39%

Source: GlobalData

Note: The preliminary results are based on the initial assessment of the shipments and are subject to change later

From being an emerging fuel source 15 years ago, solar PV has transformed into a commercially viable energy-generating technology in over 80 countries, thanks to technological advances and the availability of more effective and reliable equipment and machinery. The increasing need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, growing energy demand, and desire for energy independence and security are some of the key reasons for countries adopting solar PV. The global cumulative installed solar PV capacity increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 47.4% from 5.6GW in 2006 to 400.8GW in 2017. The cumulative installed solar PV capacity has almost tripled since 2013. Installed capacity increased from 134.05GW in 2013 to 400.8GW in 2017. Solar PV installations are mainly driven by government support mechanisms, reduction in system costs, and improved financing options. With continued advancement in technology and improvements in project economics, the growth momentum of this sector is expected to continue in the coming years.

Although China continues to dominate both the use and manufacturing of solar PV, emerging markets on all continents have begun to contribute significantly to global growth. Market developments in the leading countries such as China, Japan, the US, India, and the UK are largely due to economies of scale, emerging technologies, and policy-based government and industrial institutions.

The global solar PV module market was valued at $31.71bn in 2017 and is estimated to reach $22.72bn in 2021, registering a negative CAGR of 8% between 2017 and 2021. The fall in the market value was mainly due to the fall in module prices. The reduction in module price was attributed to the excess production by silicon manufacturers. On the flip side, the reduction in module prices resulted in an increase in installed capacity in 2017. The PV module prices are estimated to further decline due to competitive market conditions. With minimal price differences between module suppliers, buyers are price sensitive, thus creating persistent price pressure. Furthermore, module prices have declined for a variety of reasons, including the anti-dumping tariffs imposed by the US on Chinese modules, depreciation of the euro and the yen, and the downward adjustment of minimum import prices.

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JinkoSolar reported spectacular results in 2017, with the company reaching the milestone of receiving the first Cradle-to-Cradle certificate in China from SGS, one of the world’s leading testing, inspection, verification, and certification organisations. This certification highlights JinkoSolar’s commitment to high environmental, health, and safety standards in its products and manufacturing processes, along with boosting environmental and sustainable best practices within the solar sector. JinkoSolar has broken a number of world records for its silicon solar cell and module technology, displaying its technological prowess. The company has maintained its top position in terms of solar PV research and development through its advanced manufacturing process, higher mass production speeds, and enhanced quality control compared to its counterparts.

Trina Solar is also in a strong position in the areas of product quality and reliability, performance, innovation, as well as robust financial management. The company has achieved a number of breakthroughs with its innovative research and development, and since 2011 has broken 18 world records for its silicon solar cell efficiency and solar module output. Trina’s large-area interdigitated back contact silicon solar cell hit a record efficiency of 24.13% in May 2017 and in the same month the company showcased its latest cost-efficient solutions at the Intersolar Europe 2017 exhibition. These solutions (bifacial module and new cell technologies) aim to further decrease the levelised cost of electricity.

As regards the other companies that made the top rankings, JA Solar Holdings, and Canadian Solar occupied third and fourth place, with shipments of 7.5GW and 6.9GW, respectively. JA Solar highlighted that increased module shipments were mainly driven by demand from key countries such as China, Japan, and the US and the European region. The company announced it has become the first solar PV manufacturer to obtain buyer’s credit insurance from China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure). The transaction shows that the financial body acknowledges the quality and reliability of the Shanghai-based firm’s products, despite investor confidence being lost after the default of Yingli in 2016. JA Solar remains positive that its balanced global footprint and adaptive business model will help the company to adjust to evolving market scenarios.

The fourth-ranking company, Canadian Solar, witnessed record-high solar PV module shipments for the year due to strong demand from countries such as China, India, and the US and the European region. The company posted positive results with its strong, globally diversified project pipeline (around 11.1GW) and global manufacturing footprint. Canadian Solar also demonstrated its technological strength with its latest high-efficiency poly modules (Ku Modules) at Intersolar Europe 2017. It continues to expand its capacity with new technology and cost reduction.

Hanwha Q Cells came fifth with 5.4GW, GCL System Integration Technology was sixth with 4.6GW, Lerri Solar Technology stood in seventh place with 4.4GW, and Yingli lay in eighth spot with 2.7GW.

Yingli, which was responsible for shipment of 2.7GW in 2017, witnessed a slight improvement from its shipment of 2.2GW in 2016. The company experienced a drop in net revenues from Q2 2017 to Q3 2017 primarily because its external PV module shipments decreased along with the average selling price of the modules, as a consequence of reduced demand owing to the feed-in tariff decrease after June 30, 2017.

However, 2017 was a disappointing year for First Solar Inc. which slipped further down the rankings to ninth position compared to seventh in 2016. The supplier saw a decline in net sales in Q4 2017 mainly due to lower solar PV module and solar PV system shipments to third party.


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