Categories: Solar Energy

Top Solar Energy Companies

By Clint Ouma

The energy game has changed dramatically over recent years and has seen the emergence of some major, fast growing, and innovative solar energy companies.

As solar and other renewables become the major piece of the energy puzzle, these companies will play an unprecedented role in changing the global energy system with clean power, bringing electricity to developing nations, and innovating energy-generating applications that fit a diverse range of functions and needs.

Below we look at some of the top solar energy companies today.

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Solar panels on China’s Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium were supplied by one of the world’s top solar companies, Suntech.

Suntech was one of China’s first solar energy companies and is now the world’s largest silicon solar panel producer.

The company has grown quickly since its establishment in September 2001 and now has a presence in 80 countries worldwide and a dynamic research and development team spread across five countries.

One of the company’s key milestones was winning a contract to supply the solar panels for the revolutionary Bird’s Nest 2008 Olympics Arena in Beijing – a 130 kW solar installation.

The business has also successfully penetrated the western market by establishing its first U.S. factory in Arizona on January 2010.

Suntech’s technology now ranks among the best in the world after attaining a photovoltaic conversion efficiency of 19% for mono crystalline solar cells and 17% for polycrystalline photovoltaic cells in 2009 and attained the 2 GW (gigawatt) mark in 2011.

First Solar

Since its inception in 1999, First Solar has grown such that now powers 2,864,816 homes and displaced nearly 4 million Metric Tons of CO2 (as of April 2012) [2].

Through continuous research and development, the company has won several awards for ground breaking work in the solar energy industry.

They’ve balanced efficiency and cost to develop the lowest cost solar panels per watt – with the price of less than 1$/watt.

Although First Solar uses cadmium tellurium (Cd-Te) panels, which are less efficient than the crystalline panels, they have been able to consistently set world records for efficiency of the Cd-Te panels, first at 13.4% and now at 14.4% [2].

The First Solar power systems are particularly attractive because they have the fastest energy payback time when compared to all other photovoltaic PV systems in the market.

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Sharp Solar

Sharp Solar is a subsidiary business of the Japanese electronics giant, Sharp.

The company has been developing solar power solutions for more than 50 years and has secured a large consumer base and is well trusted in the industry.

Sharp Solar was the first of all solar energy companies to achieve 2 GW of solar cells.

They have repeatedly broken world records for solar cell conversion efficiency achieving 14.4% for polycrystalline photovoltaic module in 2008 and 35.8% for triple junction compound solar cells.

The company’s development has been greatly supported by the fast growth of the local Japanese solar market.

Yingli Green Energy

Cheap production costs are a common characteristic of most Chinese manufacturing companies.

Yingli Green Energy Company has taken advantage of these cheaper labor and material costs to focus on innovation in order to maintain a competitive edge.

The company develops products across the entire photovoltaic value chain.

These products include poly silicon material, ingots, wafers, solar cells and photovoltaic modules. In this way, the company has been able to serve a wide range of clients and offer a variety of solutions to each.

Global Solar Energy Company Trends

Significant growth in the Chinese solar energy Industry has caused the prices of solar panels to drop worldwide and the latest reviews have it that seven out of the ten top solar energy companies in the world are Chinese [6].

Recent trends show that whereas Chinese solar companies are growing exponentially, some major American companies have exhibited the opposite result.

In the USA, two major solar companies which in 2009 had been among the top in the world, Solyndra in California and Evergreen Solar in Massachusetts [7] [9], filed for bankruptcy in 2011 [8].

Solyndra was a champion of the innovative Copper Indium Gallium Selenium (CIGS) solar panels, with a focus on rooftop modules. Solyndra was able to attract investors and governmental support, with sales contracts reportedly worth over $1 billion [7].

With the drastic drop in costs of solar panels over the last 3 years, Solyndra’s business model became unfeasible and the company could no longer compete, despite further government support through the US Energy Department’s loan guarantee program [9].

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Article References

[1] Green World Investor – List of World’s Major Solar Energy Companies (February 2011):

[2] First Solar – About:

[3] Sharp – Sharp Solar:

[4] Suntech – About:

[5] Yingli Solar – About Us:

[6] Financial Times – China’s Rush Into Renewables: The Way The World Turns (28 November 2011):

[7] Green Tech Media – Top Ten Solar (April 2009):

[8] Financial Times – Energy; Sun Sets on Solar Power Group Solyndra:

[9] Bloomberg – Clean-Energy Advocates Urge Overhaul as Aid Shrinks 75% by 2014 (April 2012):

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View Comments

  • Since 2002 many of us forward thinking Greeny "Nurds" bought "Sharp Technology", engineered, built and supplied PhotoVoltaic panels, at about $10NZ per Watt, as they were and still are perhaps the best on the Domestic Market. With hinsight many newer converts think that they paid too much, as PV Panel prices have plummeted since "China" ( The mighty Dragon ) has "tooled up" and is now able to flood the International Market with cheaper products. "No worries", as we say in New Zealand, as the cost of installing PV Panels and systems ( including Evacuated hot water Tube systems ), is "Relative" to the time you live in. With the Finacial down turn which has and will continue to affect all budgets, a cheaper and perhaps less efficient set of panels is now actually more expensive than it was then !!! > TAZman


  • I'm starting a company however i want everything to be eco friendly which means solar. it will be a marketing company that improves technology to its full potential using solar energy. How can i find good solar companies with reasonable price to partner with? and what would be the cost to install these solar equipment?

    • Good investment, the only problem with solar energy right now is that the cost of it is too high for the average person vs fuel. The thing is that solar energy efficiency is getting better, and the price is dropping 30% every year. So if you can stay afloat or wait for the price to drop to a reasonable amount, it will pay off.

    • Hello, I am working as a senior manager(design) in India in a company that manufactures generators,motors and transformers. I am planning to start a venture in Andhra Pradesh,India to provide solar power to houses. I would like to work as an engineer or manager and gain some experience in the field of solar power before venturing into business.

  • dear sir , madam

    would you be kind enough to send me info on the solar plates of your cmpany as
    well as the rates you charge for them

    further , may i enquire whether you facilitate shipment of solar plates overseas

    moreover my interest involves household purposes...

    thank you

    with best wishes ...

  • i want to know how and what iam required to partner or be your sole distributor in Kenya and east Africa region.i am a Kenyan very much interested in green energy.

  • I am very interested in residential application of Solar Energy, primarily for generating electricity for domestic use. The country is Egypt, along Red Sea(Resort Villages' area).
    I know that many of my neighbors will join in that quest, once they see my installation start.
    I want to find contacts(Phone/email/Net) for Sharp Solar, Suntech, yingli Solar, and Siemens. Can I be provided with these contacts. Thanks

  • hie.i am resident in Zimbabwe, and have this vision of starting a power/energy generating company using solar Zimbabwe we have abundant solar energy waiting to be taped into electricity. the project i want it to be able to produce between 5-10 megawatts of electricity. is this possible and if it is, how, who can i approach. who can give me the approximate cost of establishing such a solar power plant.i really need to know this. if there is anyone out there with knowledge of the companies that i can approach would be grateful.

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