Of the top 10 solar panel manufacturers in the world, seven are headquartered in China, while only First Solar is headquartered in the United States. Determining where solar panels are manufactured is not as easy as you might think. The remaining two manufacturers on the list are from South Korea and Canada, although the latter is also considered Chinese. Over the years, the United States has come a long way in positioning itself as a leader in solar energy production, along with China, India, Japan and Vietnam.
Although solar energy was once seen as a niche market, these countries are demonstrating that this renewable energy source is a legitimate answer to the global search for alternatives to fossil fuels. The vast majority of photovoltaic products, or solar panels, are being installed in remote areas by giant solar farms that sell energy to utilities. Satellite images show the incredible growth of these huge solar farms that continue to appear all over China. China's dramatic increase in solar power is due to the nation's desperate need for electricity and its severe air pollution crisis.
While some countries have reduced incentives to install solar panels, China's government is strongly encouraging financial institutions to incentivize solar installations. The United States has continued to improve its position as a leader in solar energy by expanding its utility sector and its facilities in the residential market. Much of the increase is due to significant government incentives given to the residential sector, which is a fast-growing market segment. The International Energy Agency estimates that solar energy production accounts for 700 million tons of CO2 savings each year.
Let's take a look at where major solar companies make their products. Increase solar panel production over the next century, powering the first solar building and even using solar energy to power NASA spacecraft. The nation was at the forefront of solar technology. Solar manufacturing refers to the manufacturing and assembly of materials throughout the solar supply chain.
This includes not only photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, but also elements including batteries, inverters and racking equipment, each with its own unique chemical and physical composition. In relation to the origin of the key parts of solar panels, the assembly itself is quite simple. So this begs the question, what are solar panels made of? Virtually all photovoltaic solar panels use crystalline silicon wafers as the main component material. Silicon is used to create semiconductors for approximately 95% of all solar panels on the market today.
Solar panels also require aluminum frames, a backsheet, a junction box, and are usually covered by a layer of glass with an anti-reflective coating. All these pieces must be purchased separately and are composed of unique raw materials such as quartz and copper. By far the most widely used semiconductor in solar technology, silicon has also become vital as a material for use in computer chips and modern electronics. Silicon is extracted from materials such as quartz (silicon dioxide, SiO) and undergoes a purification and intensification process before it can be used as pure silicon.
Solar energy manufacturers can use recycled materials for aluminum brackets, but getting more sustainable materials for copper wiring or anti-reflective glass has become a challenge. We'll explain more about why this is important later, but these supply chains are what make tracking the impact of a solar company so complex. A final product can be advertised as U, S. We assume that none of the solar companies listed below host all operations only within their home country.
The best companies in the industry are international entities, which obtain and distribute resources in multiple countries and climates. The solar supply chain is truly global, so the question is answered “where are solar panels manufactured? it gets so complicated. Below you will find a list of the main solar energy manufacturers, along with their headquarters locations. Location of manufacturing headquarters So what explains the change in manufacturing mainly to countries in Southeast Asia? Beginning in the 1970s, the U.S.
He led the world in the development and production of solar technology. One theory is that, at that time, the United States,. He considered that solar energy was too much from the point of view of research and development rather than utilities-scale use, hence solar energy was developed more for spacecraft than for. In addition, Reagan-era attacks on renewable energy financing put the U.S.
Back, both in terms of politics and perception, when the president cut federal solar funding by about two-thirds and stripped the roof of the White House from solar panels installed under the Carter administration. A number of Asia-based companies have started manufacturing facilities in the U.S. UU. Unfortunately, solar energy manufacturing has not enjoyed its growth without cases of accompanying human rights problems.
In recent years, genocide through Chinese repression and forced labour by Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities has come to light in Xinjiang, where a significant part of the world's polysilicon (the main material in silicon used for solar cells) comes from. Plans announced to end this forced labour in the global solar supply chain. Energy companies associated with these violations included Hoshine Silicon Industry, Xinjiang Daqo New Energy Company, Xinjiang East Hope Nonferrous Metals Company, Xinjiang GCL New Energy Material Technology Company, and Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. The solar industry has responded to help support and ensure an ethical solar supply chain.
The environmental challenges surrounding the large-scale deployment of solar energy come from mining, emissions from purification and the disposal of end-of-life solar panels. Certainly, some solar companies live the mission of clean and ethical energy better than others. Companies such as SunPower, REC and First Solar are leading initiatives to recycle solar panels and develop solar cells designed to be reused through a circular economy. Most of all, we like to see solar companies transparent in their environmental management.
The Economic Potential of Solar Energy in the U.S. Requires greater investment (public and private) in growing technology. According to the Department of Energy, “Solar panels on just 22,000 square miles of the country's total area, roughly the size of Lake Michigan, could supply enough electricity to power the entire United States. If it is not evident at this time, the manufacture of solar panels requires a complex and globally influenced balance between supply and demand.
The best way to allay any concerns about the ethics behind your potential solar panel system is to investigate the transparency of the solar company's operations. Most major solar companies will issue reports on sustainability, environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) or corporate responsibility to provide customers with an insight into existing systems for sustainable environmental and social development. We have compiled the most recently available reports from the world's leading solar panel manufacturers. We recommend starting with SunPower if you want a good example of transparency and sustainability.
Latest Manufacturer Impact Report* Hanwha Sustainability Commitment REC Sustainability Policies Karsten Neumeister is a writer and specialist in renewable energy with a background in writing and humanities. Prior to joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the New Orleans energy sector, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten can be found climbing rocks, canoeing or writing songs when he is away from the workplace. The best of EcoWatch straight to your inbox.
It is important to research a company's ethics and sustainability before buying solar products. The market share of thin film varieties is likely to grow over the next decade, because they can be as efficient as silicon-based solar cells and yet cheaper to manufacture, since they use less energy and materials. If photovoltaic panels manufactured in China were installed in China, the high carbon intensity of the energy used and the energy saved would cancel each other out, and the time needed to counteract greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing would be the same as the energy recovery time. So it's no surprise that some of the best — and some of the worst — solar panels are manufactured there.
However, as we have noted above, the country of manufacture of a panel is not usually the most important consideration for someone who opts for solar energy. The solar modules themselves are made of solar cells, which in turn are made of silicon wafers, the thin sheets of silicon that are used as semiconductors in all electronic components, including solar panels. Buyers can reduce the impact their solar panels have on the environment by obtaining them from domestic manufacturers. When it comes to metrics such as the efficiency of solar panels, the simple cost-per-watt of a single solar panel is not a unit of measurement that can stand on its own.
As with other fair trade issues, supporting a just energy transition means evaluating the quality not only of the product, but also of the production process of solar panels. . .