The solar PV sector was marked by record deployment globally and rapid expansion into new markets in 2015, according to a global organization on renewal energy.
In its latest study titled Renewables 2016: Global Status Report, the REN 21 Network said worldwide, the solar PV market was up 25% in 2015 from the previous year.
Yet, in Germany in recent years, local solar panel manufacturers have had to grapple with rock-bottom prices from Chinese rivals, a flooded market and dwindling incentives across the EU.
Some companies, unable to withstand harsh competition from imported solar panels, collapsed in the wake of the 2008 global meltdown.
Some such as Bosch Solar Energy were taken over by SolarWorld, while another, Conergy, filed for bankruptcy in 2013 being unable to compete with cheap Chinese imports.
Despite the setbacks, Germany still boasts of some leading solar panel manufacturers, the top 10 as per accepted rankings being:
The Bonn-based SolarWorld, makers of photovoltaic products including polycrystalline silicon solar panels and modules, was founded in 1988; it was rechristened as SolarWorld AG when it went public 11 years later.
In 2008, it won the German Sustainability Award for the most sustainable production.
The same year, SolarWorld entered into a joint venture with Qatar Solar Technologies, which became the largest shareholder in 2013 following a restructuring.
SolarWorld AG is listed on three bourses: the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Germany’s largest securities exchange; the Photovoltaik Global 30 Index that lists 30 energy companies with emphasis on solar power, and the OkoDAX –a German stock market index which includes 10 companies in the renewable energy sector.
Centrotherm Photovoltaics AG
Centrotherm AG is a supplier of process technology and equipment for the photovoltaics, semi-conductors and microelectronics industries.
Founded in 1976, Centrotherm is headquartered are in Blaubeuren in Baden-Württemberg, and sSince 2000, has been an important global player in the photovoltaic sector.
The company got itself listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in October 2007 and on the German TecDAX two months later.
Centrosolar Group AG
Centrosolar Group AG, based in Munich, is one of Europe’s leading stock exchange listed solar companies, boasting of a €23-million facility spread over 47,000-square metres in Wismar.
The company develops, manufactures and markets thermal key equipment and process technology for the production of solar cells.
However, the core business of subsidiary company Centrosolar AG is plug-and-play integrated systems for private houses as well as building-integrated solutions.
It also has subsidiaries in Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the US.
A wholly-owned subsidiary of Schott AG, Schott Solar has over 50 years experience in the solar industry.
Schott uses its own silicon ingots to make monocrystalline solar panels.The company also makes light concentration systems, an industry where it regards itself as a market leader, where it uses parabolic trough technology.
Schott’s solar products are made in its US facility.
Scheuten Solar Technology GmbH
Founded in 2000, Scheuten Solar is an offshoot of Schuten Glass, itself founded in 1950 in Holland. The company opened a production facility in Gelsenkirchen in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia state in 2003.
Scheuten opened another facility in the Netherlands in 2003 and one in Tiawan as a joint venture with Ritek. Its product portfolio spans a range of mono- and polycrystalline silicon solar panels and modules, and integrated solar panels and modules.
It also specializes in the development and implementation of turnkey PV projects.
Solimpeks Solar GmbH
Based in Munich, Bavaria, Solimpeks GmbH is the German subsidiary of Solimpeks Solar Corp of Turkey.
Solar thermal panel manufacturers since 1973, Solimpeks is one of the world’s leading brands in high-quality solar thermal collectors, PV-T hybrid panels, thermosiphon systems and related mounting systems.
The company’s broader product line is exported to 60 countries, with European Union countries comprising about 70% of sales.
Solimpeks PV-T products are the first hybrid panels to be listed on the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.
Solimpeks has sales offices in 60 countries.
Alfa Solar Technologies
Alfa Solar was founded in 1993 as a solar sales company but branched off into manufacturing it own OEM photovoltaic modules and module mounting systems in 1996.
In 2007, the Hannovar-based company saw the introduction of their pyramid anti-reflective glass technology for capturing more light, and in 2009, it set up a new 20MW production facility, which was later upped to 40MW.
Alfa Solar has production facilities in Germany and Sweden.
Gehrlicher Solar AG
Gehrlicher Solar, based near Munich, is an international photovoltaic company with project experience on four continents.
The company acts as a system integrator – planning, building, financing, maintaining and operating – in photovoltaic systems on open areas and rooftops.
Its product range includes its own developed components from the “GehrTec” brand of solar modules, inverters and complete photovoltaic systems.
Gehrlicher’s registered office is in Neustadt near Coburg.
Hanwha Q Cells
Hanwha Q Cells was originally German-owned, but was bought by Korea’s Hanwha in 2013; it still has manufacturing facilities in Germany meeting German standards.
Q Cells manufactures photovoltaic solar cells using German knowhow at its Thalheim plant in the eastern German state of Saxony.
Q Cells merged into Hanwha SolarOne in February 2015 to form Hanwha Q Cells.
Phoenix Solar AG
The Sulzemoos, Bavaria-based Phoenix Solar AG designs, builds and operates large, utility-scale photovoltaic power plants.