Solar panels are the new trend market for energy sector and in this Hourglass article we’ll make clear where solar panels are made, the different countries market size and where is solar energy manufacturers in the U.S.
Where are solar panels made by country
Solar energy production is an undeniable priority for major global economies. Currently, China is the top solar panel world producer.
The other countries in the solar panel production ranking are the United States, Japan, Germany, and India. These 5 countries represent 83% of the solar energy industry in the world.
The race for the lead in solar energy production is a big one for this decade. First because, in a few years, the entire global economy will be entwined with sustainability.
Countries will drop out of trade agreements or even lose old ones if they do not follow the green economy goals agreed upon in international treaties such as the Paris Agreement.
In addition, a more immediate economic reason is the demand for these panels. With aggressive carbon reduction targets by 2040, countries that do not have the raw materials or technology to manufacture solar panels will need to import them en masse.
Why are all solar panels made in China?
To understand why almost all solar panels are produced in China, one needs to understand a little about the dynamics of this country.
China is the main competitor as the leader of the global economy in the 21st century.
The country was basically agrarian in the 20th century, but after the economic opening in 1976, China became a mixed economy.
In the last 25 years, it has been the fastest growing country on the planet, with a GDP growth of about 10% per year.
To give you a comparison, the GDP of the United States grew by 2.1% in 2022. Of course, you have to take into consideration that we are talking about the most established economy on the planet.
China and solar panels
It is not news to anyone that there is a technological war going on between the United States and China.
The two great powers have already had intense chapters, such as the competition for the chip and semiconductor market, which is fundamental for the technology sector.
As sustainability and the fight against climate change advance, China is also taking the lead in providing the necessary infrastructure.
It is important to remember that Chinese companies control about 80% of solar manufacturing.
In this case, we are talking not only about the assembled panels, but their components as well.
The Asian country is the largest producer of solar energy in the world. By 2021, the country had 254 Gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity. The second place is the U.S, with 73.8 GM installed.
With global demand growing, the market projection for the solar power sector is USD 373.84 billion for 2029.
Chinese Solar Panel Manufacturers
As the largest manufacturer of solar panels in the world, China dominates the ranking of leading suppliers, accounting for 9 of the top 10 companies.
As such, most manufacturers have companies spread throughout Southeast Asia, in regions such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, or are financed by China, putting them ahead of many European and American brands.
Still, China is responsible for consuming more than 50% of the global solar panel production, which encourages its growth in the market and helps consumers to acquire a more economical and environmentally friendly source of energy.
Top 10 solar panel manufacturers in China
- Trina Solar Limited
- China Sunergy
-DelSolar CO Ltd
- JA Solar
- Motech Solar
- Suntech Power
- Jinko Solar
- SFCE Solar
- Hanwha Q CELLS Co Ltd
Which country makes best solar panels?
It is difficult to define who are the best solar panel manufacturers in the world.
Since it is a fairly standard functioning product, choosing the best solar power company will depend on what is best for your needs, considering price and efficiency, for example.
To try to come to a close conclusion, we can check who are the biggest solar panel producers on the planet, assuming that the size of the company is a synonym for the quality of the product manufactured.
|Solar panel manufacturer||Country|
How to choose the best solar panel manufacturer
Being a high value-added product, choosing the brand of solar panels is a highly involved process.
What is at stake, in this case, is a series of technical requirements that need to be observed from the way the sunlight will be captured to its conversion into electrical energy.
From one end to the other, you need to consider aspects both at the material level and the specifications in terms of power generation.
To facilitate your decision, we list below the four key elements of this choice.
Sunlight-based power generation projects are quite different from one another. As a result, the costs involved may vary and here we’re talking about components quality. Solar cables, for example, require special attention, since they must be UV-resistant and they should last for at least 20 years.
Also, be sure to calculate the panels effiency, considering the amount of energy generated per square meter.
The most efficient ones on the market are between 13% and 17% on efficincy, some reaching even 21%, as in the case of monocrystalline panels.
It is worth analyzing the plate’s temperature coefficient, in other words, how much heat does it absorbs as it remains exposed?
Taking this count in consideration, boards with high coefficients are less efficient.
The estimations are 0.47% at most for this indicator in solar panels.
Another issue that should be analyzed is the power variation of panels plates, depending on the radiation incidence on the equipment.
On top of that, the plate will be more powerful when it’s variation is positive, in maximum 5% variation range.
Are any solar panels made in the USA?
Yes, a large amount of solar panels are produced in the United States every year.
Although the Asian market is more advanced in solar energy production, with China leading the way, the United States accounts for:
- 6% of the world’s solar panels
- 5% of polysilicon supply (raw material for the panels)
- 1% of cell dollars
By 2020, more than 230,000 people will work directly in the solar panel industry in the U.S.
Some of the largest companies producing solar panels in the USA are:
- First Solar
- LG Electronics
- Tesla (formerly SolarCity)
How big is the US solar market?
Solar panels moved a huge amount of money in the last few years. There is no hard data for the year 2022 yet, but in 2021 the size of this market was about USD 11.75 billion.
Solar energy is projected to be worth USD 44.77 billion in the U.S. by 2030, generating many jobs in the clean energy sector.
Where are solar panels made in the USA?
There are many states in the USA that produce solar panels. Among the major solar producing states in the United States are:
- New York
What are solar panels made of?
Solar panels are made from a mix of 7 different components. Below, you can find the list and more about the manufacturing process of these green energy plates:
- Aluminum frame or picture frame
- Special glass
- EVA or encapsulating film
- Photovoltaic cell
- EVA or encapsulating film
- Protective Background or Backsheet
- Junction box
How solar panels are made
Let’s talk a bit about the components of solar panels and their technical characteristics.
The main component of the solar panels are the silicon cells, which is the active part of the solar panels, that is, where the electrical energy is actually produced.
Silicon is a semiconductor, meaning that it can be between a conductor and a non-conductor, and this is one of the characteristics that scientists have taken advantage of to produce energy.
Silicon is very abundant in countries like Brazil, in the form of quartz, which are those white stones that we sometimes see on the surface of the ground and in some regions of Brazil it is used in construction.
In fact, it is one of the most abundant materials in the soil, in the form of sand.
Silicon after an industrial purification process, large ingots of purified silicon of 99.9999% or greater are produced. These ingots are cut with diamond wires into thin laminae or “wafers” that we call photovoltaic cells.
99.9999% Purified Silicon Cells
The pure silicon cells called wafers are then doped, i.e., contaminated in a controlled manner with Boron to form the P-type, or positively charged side and the other side of the cell is doped with phosphorus to form the N-type, or negatively charged side.
Thus, we have the upper side of the cell with phosphorus forming the negative pole and the opposite side with Boron forming the positive pole of the cell.
Already doped Solar Cell
After doping, these cells receive the printed circuits with silver, increasing the cell’s ability to collect electricity.
These very thin lines form a circuit grid on top of the cell, which is also used later to solder the “tabwires”, which are thin strips of copper soldered over the cells to form a series of cells, or better known as a string. At the bottom of the cell there is also silver printing of tracks for later soldering of the tabwires.
After finishing the cells, these are classified, according to their characteristics and separated by grid, the best being the “A” grid which is a cell without defects and of optimal quality, then comes the other classifications, which are “B” and so on, each classification considers an acceptance of defects such as a brittle, stains, etc.
The grid characteristics are important indicators of the useful life of these cells and their sunlight conversion efficiency.
The recommendation is to go for “A” grid cells, later we will do an article to deal with solar cell grids.
Tabwires and busbars
The tabwires and busbars are thin strips of copper covered with a thin layer of tin, these strips are used to interconnect one cell to another conducting electricity.
The most current cells receive 4 or more “tabwires” on each face of the cell, these ribbons in turn connect to the next cell, forming the string of cells.
The current 72-cell boards usually have 6 strings of 12 cells, these strings are interconnected in turn by the “busbar”, which is a wider tape.
The busbars, besides interconnecting the strings of cells, are also used to conduct electricity to the junction box of the solar module. We will talk more about the junction box at the end.
The Glass, EVA, TPT Sandwich
After the string of cells in the solar module is assembled, these cells are encapsulated in the form of a sandwich, with the following assembly: Glass+Eva+Cells+Eva+PTP
The glass is usually tempered, with some models made of other transparent materials, but the larger commercial models are made of glass.
The glass used is usually iron-free high-transparency tempered glass, i.e., it should be as transparent as possible, anti-reflective, yet tough and as thin as possible.
The idea is that the glass allows as much light as possible to pass through. The panel models do not receive iron in their production, and when they do, this amount should be limited.
EVA is a plastic film that reacts to heat transforming itself into a resin, its purpose in the module is to give consistency to the set of cells, joining the glass and at the same time protecting it from direct contact with the glass and the bottom part of the panel that is the TPT film.
The EVA sheet wraps around the cells on both sides and after heating turns into a resin that wraps the entire cell assembly with high transparency.
The TPT is a plastic film, very resistant, has the function of protecting the back of the solar panel, and on it is fixed the junction box of the solar panel.
After the sandwich is assembled, a vacuum is applied, this vacuum has the purpose of removing all the air, so that when the panel is “cured” there will be no bubbles in the EVA.
During the vacuum, the solar panel is heated in an autoclave laminator, this process “melts” the EVA and transforms the parts of the sandwich into a single assembly.
The purpose of the junction box is to protect the module from reverse current through diodes and to facilitate the exit of the conductor cables from the solar panels.
After the module has been laminated, the junction box is attached behind the board and the busbars are connected to the junction box terminals.
The diodes are installed in the junction box, which do not allow reverse current, which can occur at night or in shadows. In this way it is avoided, for example, that the boards during the night work in reverse, consuming charge and discharging the energy stored in batteries, or due to shading during the day “consume” the energy of other boards.
In short, the junction box protects the board and the system from reverse currents, which could consume energy and in the worst case damage the module, or even generate a heating or even a fire.
The Junction Box has also in its outputs a pair of photovoltaic cables, with double insulation and UV protection, which is weather and sunlight resistant.
At the ends of the cables, there is a terminal connector known as MC4. The purpose of this connector is to interconnect one board to another, or to make the connection to use the energy from the panels.
The connectors of a solar panel are made of a resistant plastic with UV protection, and allow a quick fitting and are protected against rain or humidity.
When using MC4 it is important to use reliable manufacturers, because it is a critical component, and a low quality product brings risks to the system.
Testing the assembled assembly
After the junction box is assembled, the module is fully tested, and its voltage and current characteristics and other variables are checked, classified, and after the production quality is certified, it goes to be fitted with the aluminum profiles.
One of the last components is the aluminum frame, which fits the panel and has the purpose of protecting the extremities, providing resistance to the set and still allowing the fixation of the modules through the holes or by means of clips.