January is typically a busy month for every business in almost every industry sector as companies prepare themselves for the year to come. In time for the New Year, InterPV magazine has asked leading PV players about their goals and strategies for the year 2011. The global PV market is considered volatile and unpredictable by many in the industry due largely to extreme shifts in pricing, demand and governmental subisidies. Then, how to navigate this murky market?
Leading PV companies share their goals and ambitions for the New Year and explain what the industry can expect from them in 2011.
Reported by Jeanny Lim
The 2011 aim of SOLON, a German module manufacturer, is to strengthen its position in its core markets, which are Germany, Italy and the U.S.A. SOLON also aims to get access to new solar markets and strengthen its position in fairly new markets like France and the U.K. “In France, we opened a sales office in August 2010, so we have high ambitions to increase our sales there. For the U.K., such a step might follow,“ said CEO Stefan Suberlich.
The German module manufacturer expects a double-digit percentage growth in revenues in 2011 and wants to reduce net debt and achieve bottom line profitability again. “To achieve these goals,” said Suberlich, “we will work on strengthening our market position as a premium solar solution provider and on expanding our power plant business.”
SOLON expects the share of turnover of its power plant business to increase again compared to its module segment.
In 2011, SCHOTT Solar, a provider of important components for PV applications and solar energy plants, will mainly put its focus on growing and gaining market share, reducing costs, enforcing strong customer relationship. “Our goal is to grow significantly. With our high-quality products, we’re aiming at rooftop installations. Therefore, strong brand and customer relation are key to our success,”said Lars Waldmann, Director of Public Relations at SCHOTT Solar AG.
SCHOTT Solar intends to increase exports and gain market share. With its cost roadmap, the German PV manufacturer sees itself well-positionned for the future markets.
SCHOTT Solar’s strategy is based on four elements: superior quality, sustainable innovation, strong brand and market access, and continuous cost reduction. “With this strategy, we enforce and strengthen our international business and export sales. One strategical step included is to provide also our multi-megawatt project competencies to the market,” said Waldmann.
SMA, a German manufacturer of PV inverters, views the U.S.A. as a market with enormous potential in the medium term. It’s the primary reason that Denver was selected for SMA’s first production site outside of Germany.
Through a product range that extends from kilowatt to megawatt, SMA expects to continue its leadership role in North America. “The Sunny Boy is a reliable staple in the residential and light commercial markets and the Sunny Central line features industry leading technology for large-scale projects,” said Dave Wojciechowski, Sales Director of SMA America.
With subsidiaries and production sites in both the U.S.A. and Canada, SMA is clearly demonstrating its commitment to this region.
The world’s largest manufacturer of thin-film PV modules, First Solar intends to consolidate its market position and almost double production. The U.S. thin-film manufacturer is planning to increase production capacity from 1.4 GW to 2.7 GW by 2012, which would correspond to almost one fifth of the world market, significantly more than any competitor has.
Although First Solar expands its location in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, the company intends to reduce its dependence on the German market. “North America will be the biggest market for us in 2011. So far, Germany has been the number one,” said CEO Rob Gillette. The share of the German market in total revenue will be 25 to 30% only by the end of 2011 while it was 70% in 2009, added Gillette.
First Solar is determined to distribute revenue across the world in a way to cope with Feed-in Tariff (FiT) cuts in Germany. The U.S.A. market will gain in significance and is to contribute around one third to First Solar’s total revenue in 2011. “Even though solar subsidies in the U.S.A. differ by state, we expect better conditions. We are developing our own solar parks to benefit from those conditions and, for this purpose, have bought three project planning companies. They provide us with a project pipeline of 2.2 GW, mainly in California,” explained Gillette.
With the restructuring and refinancing completed, the main focus of Q-Cells, a leading German solar cell producer, is now on driving strategic transformation forward. “This includes the positioning of Q-Cells as a premium provider of PV products and systems through a new sales approach, an increase of the company’s global footprint--i.e., a higher market share in important PV markets, and the continuous improvement of productivity and cost position,” said Ina von Spies, Director of Corporate Communications at Q-Cells. “This set of measures will help us secure further competitiveness.”
Gintech, Taiwan’s biggest solar cell maker, is looking forward to securing the position of one of the top 5 PV cell producers in the world. Other than production expansion plan, Gintech will stick to working with its global strategic partners to achieve this goal, according to Jackie Lin, Marketing Manager of Gintech Energy Corporation.
Kyocera, one of the world’s largest vertically-integrated producers and suppliers of solar energy products, has a target to produce 600 MW of solar cells this fiscal year (April 2010-March 2011), and 800 MW for next fiscal year (April 2011-March 2012) with the addition of a new plant in Yasu, Shiga in Japan. “Together with the existing plant in Yohkaichi, Shiga, the new plant will help us respond to the growing needs of the market,” said Ichiro Ikeda, Marketing Manager of Solar Energy Group at Kyocera Corporation.
2010 was a strong year for Trina Solar, a leading Chinese manufacturer of PV modules. Module shipments surpassed 900 MW, which solidified its position among the world’s leading panel manufacturers in terms of scale, and its customer loyalty today is stronger than ever before, according to Jerome Mazet, Senior Manager of Asia-Pacific Marketing & Global Branding at Trina Solar. “Our brand recognition within and beyond the PV industry has increased significantly, boosted in part by our recent sponsorship of Renault F1, along with the proven quality and world-class performance of our PV modules in terms of electricity generation (kWh/ kWp),” said Mazet.
Looking towards 2011, Trina Solar hopes to leverage these assets to establish itself as the leading brand in the industry. “We will do this by strengthening our market approach and building an ever stronger customer network for the years to come,” commented Mazet.
Suntech, one of the world’s largest producers of solar panels based in China, will continue to expand capacity and amplify R&D investments to drive down the price of solar for consumers everywhere under the sun. “For example, we plan to expand our first U.S. module production facility from 30 MW to 50 MW in early 2011. At the same time, we will continue to build a strong foundation in key emerging markets, such as Thailand, Israel, and South Africa, by working with local partners and making strategic local investments,” said Holly Wu, Director of Marketing for Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa at Suntech.
Conergy, a Germany-based producer of all components needed for solar power plants, believes it’s well positioned to overcome the harsh market conditions expected in the German market in 2011. There are a few reasons that would support their claim.
First, thanks to its consistent premium quality standards--which are promise and assurance at the same time for Conergy customers due to the longevity of its components as well to their good performance and output, also after 20 years.
Second, Conergy intends to meet the market challenge with its capability to innovate. “We constantly develop new products such as our new system solution for large-scale projects for investors. Or, for the private homes, with our self-consumption solution for the German markets: It makes our customers more independent of nuclear power and ensures a high customer revenue of up to 41 Cents per kilowatt hour, which is even higher than the regular feed-in tariff,” said Andreas Wilsdorf, Member of the Management Board at Conergy AG.
Third, when it comes to broad and international presence in the different solar markets, Conergy is well-positioned. Conergy is active in 16 different countries, among them are all the important key and growth markets as well as emerging new markets. “Already today, roughly 50% of our worldwide sales are outside of Germany, which makes it easier for us to compensate stagnations or to better equal ups and downs in one country or another, such as Spain in the past and Germany today,” said Wilsdorf
Fourth, Conergy has a system manufacturer strategy and extensive sales networks with a close proximity to the customers. The German solar player offers everything from one single source: not only all the components needed for a solar system from its own factories ‘Made in Germany’ but also all services along the solar value chain from the planning and developing of large-scale projects or smaller on-roof systems on private homes or company buildings, to the financing, the engineering and implementation, the insurance, maintenance as well as the operational and commercial management. “This portfolio makes us unique in the market environment, on a product basis as well as on a service basis,” said Wilsdorf.
juwi, one of the leading project developers for renewable energies, expects a broad range of applications for PV power plants all over the world: free-field applications on military, industrial and even agricultural land as well as rooftop installations of any size. In addition to that, juwi plan to further extend its activities for the installation of solar carports in industrialized countries as well as off-grid systems in developing countries. For juwi, the core market will still be Germany, but the German renewable project developer will also set a strong focus on countries like Italy, France and the U.S.A. First projects in Chile, India and the United Kingdom--in all countries the company just opened new offices--ndicate that PV power systems are at the edge of becoming reliable energy supply solutions for the whole world. “After approx. 300 MW of new installations in 2010, we expect an increase of our PV activities for 2011 of up to more than 400 MW,” said Christian Hinsch, Director of Corporate Communications at juwi group.
Jeanny Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to email@example.com.
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