Solar Power is the cleanest, most reliable and cheapest form of renewable energy. Rooftop PV systems are the most popular of one considers how many buildings there are in the US? Imagine if every rooftop was covered by solar panels and how much electricity could be generated and how many dirty coal-fired power stations could be turned off? In recent years the cost of solar power has dropped dramatically due to a number of different reasons ranging from improvement in production processes to improved technology and government subsidies. So how do Solar Panels work? In simple terms Solar-powered photovoltaic (PV) panels convert the sun's rays into electricity by exciting electrons in silicon cells using the photons of light from the sun, this electricity can then be used to provide clean power to your home or business. Let’s look at the Top 10 Solar PV Manufacturers out there and see what they are doing.
Canadian Solar is one of the world's leading Solar Panel manufacturers with over 24 GW of PV panels installed worldwide.
One challenge with PV panels up to now is that your power output is limited to the amount of space, which is logical.
The idea is to cram as much as Kw’s per a square meter as possible. Canadian Solar’s next generation of module technology includes their new range of solar panels that provide higher power output for equivalent module sizes.
An example is the KuDymond mono-PERC modules that can reach up to 370 W!
Trina Solar is a leading provider of solar solutions, having installed 11 GW of solar power capacity globally.
Trina Solar had really been focusing on improving solar panel efficiencies.
Solar cell efficiency refers to the portion of energy in the form of sunlight that can be converted via photovoltaics into electricity.
The first silicon solar cell was invented in 1954 and it had an efficiency of 6%, Trina Solar has developed a Monocrystalline solar panel with an efficiency ratio of 22.61% and a Polycrystalline panel with an efficiency ratio of 21.25% in the lab. Closing the performance gap between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline technologies.
First Solar is a homegrown American Solar PV Manufacturer, having solar power installed capacity of 17GW globally.
The benefits of thin film solar are having a flexible solar panel that can be incorporated into building material such as windows or roofing.
They are also lighter than their traditional heavier solar panels. Other commercial applications use rigid thin film solar panels (sandwiched between two panes of glass) in some of the world's largest photovoltaic power stations.
Thin film is also cheaper than conventional c-Si technology but also less efficient. First Solar has been at the forefront of closing the efficiency gap. Generating up to 445 Watts per a panel with a 17% efficiency ratio!
Jinko Solar is a global leader in the manufacturing of solar technology, with a total installed solar capacity of 18 GW globally. They manufacture PV panels for the residential, commercial and utility sector. Jinko Solar has recently broken its own record of solar panel efficiency by breaking the 23.45% mark in monocrystalline technology.
What makes Jinko Solar different? Jinko Solar is embracing the 4th industrial revolution by incorporating new technologies in its manufacturing process to improve panel efficiencies such as IoT devices, intelligent mobile devices, and mobile robots to its manufacturing process.
The innovative applications allow Jinko Solar to consolidate data collection, enable yield traceability, improve workflow efficiency, and optimize material transportation, which ultimately allows the company to continuously enhance its fab operating efficiency.
JA Solar is another leading global manufacturer of Solar technology, with a total installed solar capacity of 23 GW globally!
JA Solar see’s itself as an innovator in the Solar technology industry, technological development at Solar has stayed approx. 6-12 months ahead of competition.
The power rating of JA Solar’s PV-modules in mass production is on average about 5 to 10 watts above industry average.
JA Solar was also the first Solar technology company to start mass production of PV panels. In February of 2016, they started mass production of the high efficiency 300W monocrystalline PV panel. JA Solar panels were also used in the worlds largest floating PV farm situated in China, a whopping 40 MW system!
SunPower has been leading global solar innovator since 1985, with its headquarters in Silicon Valley. Sun Power PV panels have generated over 18 000 000 MWh’s to date.
Sun Power focuses on the residential, commercial and utility solar energy markets. Sun Power has the highest efficiency solar panel for the residential sector at 22.7% efficiency.
Sunpower Corp solar panels are also cradle to grave certified. The principles for certification include sourcing materials safe for humans and the environment and ensuring that these materials are recycled at the end of the products’ life.
LG Energy a subsidiary of LG Electronics a South Korean company manufactures Solar PV Panels and Energy Storage solutions. LG Energy Solar PV panels consist of a number of unique properties that enhances its overall performance.
Their LG NeON®2 has the ability to produce energy from both the front and the back of the cell. This innovative approach allows the absorption of light from the front and the back of the cell, which raises the panel’s performance.
The panels also contain an anti-reflective coating technology on the glass and on the cells of our panels to ensure more light is absorbed in the panel and not reflected, meaning power is generated from the sunlight. Solar panels lose their ability to generate power the hotter it gets. LG Energy panels are designed to withstand hot environments without losing their power output as much as conventional panels.
Winaico aisa manufacturer’s of high-performance crystalline photovoltaic panels as well as a provider of photovoltaic systems.
It’s a Taiwanese based company that manufacture both monocrystalline and polycrystalline high-performance PV panels.
Solar Panels are constantly exposed to the environment and have to be designed and engineered to withstand those harsh conditions.
What makes Winaico panels unique is that they engineered to withstand the harshest conditions such as salt spray where panels are installed in a marine environment and ammonia resistant such as in the agricultural sector where ammonia emissions are high with livestock. Winaico is also rated against hail damage and have achieved the internationally acclaimed German standard TUV for performance and harsh environmental conditions.
Hanwha Q Cells is another South Korean company known globally for manufacturing of high-performance PV panels.
They manufacture PV panels for the residential and commercial market and also have an EPC division (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) for implementation of PV projects. Their panels make use of a unique patented technology called Q.ANTUM technology that enhances energy yield even during low light conditions, such as when the weather is cloudy and or during clear autumn and winter days when the sun is not as high in the sky.
Light-induced degradation (LID) is caused by unstable Boron-Oxygen complexes which can be found in all p-type solar cells. Exposing such solar cells to sunlight quickly leads to significant power degradation of up to 6%. Hanwha Q CELLS Q.ANTUM technology also ensures stabilization of B-O complexes resulting in minimized light-induced degradation and thereby sustain panel performance.
Mitsubishi Electric has been in the solar panel business for over 40 years, they manufacture high-quality PV panels for the commercial and residential market and also provide project financing.
What make’s Mitsubishi Electric Solar Panels unique is that they contain no lead solder, which is an environmental hazard.
Their approach to the manufacturing of PV panels is also unique in that they have introduced measures in the manufacturing process to track and reduce office resource use, increase recycling, and adopt re-usable and biodegradable materials.