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.
Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere