Solar Consolidation Begins

180 Companies May Disappear by 2015


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GTM Research suggests that almost 180 solar manufacturers will either fail or be acquired by 2015 due to a mix of overcapacity and low prices.

These companies, based in the U.S., Europe, and Canada, are faced with the difficulty of competing with absurdly low-priced Chinese solar panels.

Currently, the solar industry’s production capacity is nearly 35 GW in excess of what is needed; as a result, prices are being kept down and struggling companies face an even harder time.

Bloomberg reports:

“We expect most of the manufacturing in the high-cost areas to close,” said [senior GTM solar analyst Shyam] Mehta. The change will be “pretty brutal, pretty quick outside of China,” where slow capacity rationalization will make things “difficult for everybody.”

The report also mentions that there are around 54 “solar zombies” in China—companies with less than 300 MW capacity that are operating on government support—which may either shut down or be quickly bought out.

Total global solar panel energy demand is likely to be as little as 28.8 to 35.2 GW this year, Bloomberg reports.

Some balance may be restored by 2014, and the reports suggests that top solar manufacturers in 2015 are likely to be First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR), Canadian Solar (NASDAQ: CSIQ), Hanwha SolarOne Co. (NASDAQ: HSOL), JinkoSolar Holding Co. (NYSE: JKS), and JA Solar Holdings Co. (NASDAQ: JASO).

That last one may not pan out. JA Solar, already carrying heavy debt, was recently warned by Nasdaq that it could face delisting, making it the second solar company to be warned by an exchange for failing to meet minimum share-price requirements in less than a month.

The average closing price of JA Solar’s American Depositary Shares was below $1.00 for the preceding 30 trading days as of October 11, and the company now has until April 9 of 2012 to resolve matters.

Suntech Power Holdings Co. (NYSE: STP) was also similarly warned, and the warning was issued by the NYSE.

JA Solar was trading at 79 cents before noon on Wednesday.


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