A huge bumper crop of solar panels already has caused a sharp decline in their prices and bankrupted many manufacturers worldwide over the past two years. Now a research report released Tuesday says another 180 solar panel makers will likely go out of business or be bought by 2015.
Nearly half of them – or 88 companies – will shut down factories in countries that have become too expensive for producing solar panels, namely the United States, Europe and Canada, said GTM Research. The report looks at over 300 solar panel makers to determine their chances of survival.
The prognosis is not only shocking, but it also answered a perennial question, at least for now, about whether solar manufacturing can thrive in the United States. China, which has used state owned banks and utilities to finance solar factory expansion and create domestic demand for solar panels, will continue to dominate solar manufacturing, though the government is reportedly working on rescuing only 12 large companies and forcing mergers in others. GTM is estimating that 54 solar panel makers in China will not survive over the next three years.
“Given where the industry is right now and how committed China is for its solar manufacturing industry, it’s very difficult for the U.S. to compete,” said Shyam Mehta, the senior analyst who authored the GTM report. In fact, by the end of 2013, cell and panel manufacturing could disappear all together in the United States.