Who are the global solar market’s biggest players?
Solar energy’s ascendant viability is showing no signs of slowing down, with more and more energy being produced through photovoltaic cells by major firms and people at home all the time. With the business case of sustainability concurrently becoming increasingly more evident for companies around the world, it is no surprise that the leading source of renewable energy is also yielding major revenues for a number of key players. Based on Statista’s findings for FY 2018, here are the top five leaders in the space.
5. LONGi Solar (China) - US$2.38bn
Founded in 2000, LONGi Solar is a leader in mono-crystalline solar module manufacturing, with a mission to maximise the efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) cells for clients around the world. The company’s P-type PERC (passivated emitter and rear cell) panels set a world record for solar cell efficiency at 24.06% per cell. Its global presence is spread from its HQ in Xi’An, China across Germany, India, Malaysia, Japan and Australia.
4. JA Solar (China) - US$2.82bn
Beijing-based JA Solar, founded in 2005, specialises in end-to-end and modular solar cell manufacturing, with its products found in 120 countries, 33,000 global clients and 20,000 employees. The company has a deep-rooted culture of sustainability and CSR, with an array of philanthropic initiatives across China. Its Hope Project has seen it fund the establishment of 60 primary schools, it has donated power generation modules and full systems to many of those schools, and it has been a major donator for disaster relief operations across the country over the past decade. To date, it has helped over 1,000 students from poor backgrounds to progress with their education, and has provided financial aid to more than 200 cataracts patients to ensure they receive medical attention.
3. Trina Solar (China) - US$3.04bn
Founded in 1997 and based in Changzhou, China, Trina Solar has spent the past two decades growing into one of the world’s pre-eminent solar module manufacturing companies. The firm regularly breaks records for solar cell efficiency and module power, and is dedicated to regularly reviewing the sustainability of its manufacturing operations. Its products all come with a 25-year warranty, highlighting its commitment to and belief in the quality of its offering.
2. Jinko Solar (China) - US$3.64bn
Having shipped 11.4GW of solar panel modules in 2018, Jinko Solar is the world’s most productive manufacturer in the space. The company is a key innovator in the space, with a suite of highly productive modules across the full spectrum of panel types capable of handling challenging environmental conditions, maximising space, and producing leading levels of energy per unit. Its internal sustainability practices are similarly laudable, with a reduction in GHG emissions of 60.19% between 2014 and 2018, and cuts of 15.51% of its water consumption and 27.82% in electricity usage over the same period, among other achievements.
1. Canadian Solar (Canada/China) - US$3.74bn
Statista found that Canadian Solar led the global solar manufacturing space in FY 2018, and boasts an employee headcount of 13,000 across six continents. The Canadian-Chinese firm has shipped 36GW of PV modules in the 18 years since its establishment, and its project pipeline has grown to over 13GW. Counting BlackRock, Samsung, TransCanada and PennEnergy amongst its potent global portfolio, the quality-focused company ensures it leads the market through state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and ensuring that its PV products match this dedication to the cutting-edge.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.