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Big names face doom before PV cull ends, analyst claims

Up to 180 PV module makers are set to disappear by 2015, and only an elite handful stand a chance of being acquired by a stronger rival, according to GTM Research.

GTM suggests that the savage wave of consolidation that has already swept across the PV manufacturing sector is only a warm up, because – with a few key exceptions – most of the names that have gone under are merely small players, whose overall capacity is of negligible consequence to the broader industry.

The largest player GTM deems likely to disappear is SolarWorld, with 950MW of capacity on line in the US and Germany.

After that comes a long list of well-known names, including Spain’s Siliken (280MW), Germany’s Conergy and Spain’s Solaria Energia (both 250MW), and Germany’s Bosch Solar (190MW).

Smaller players expected to face the axe include France’s Photowatt, Canada’s OpSun and Portugal’s Martifer Solar.

Of those companies facing the abyss, GTM deems only a few – including SolarWorld, Conergy, Solaria and Isofóton – worthy of a takeover.

“It’s the devil or the deep-blue sea for the majority of these high-cost firms,” claims Shyam Mehta, senior analyst at GTM, in a note.

Mehta says the average manufacturing costs for firms in the US, Europe and Japan currently stand over $0.80/W, while in China they are at $0.58-$0.68/W.

The note did not address whether the imposition of trade barriers around the world would impact or delay the competitiveness of Western manufacturers.

However, GTM says China will not be spared an outbreak of bankruptcies, with more than 50 Chinese manufacturers likely to disappear.

The cull would be even more ferocious in China but for the country's fast-expanding domestic PV market – likely to be the saving grace for players like LDK Solar, Astronergy and Alex Solar that may otherwise have faced extinction.

GTM reaffirms the industry-wide expectation that the government will continue to prop up major players with competitive cost structures and large work forces – singling out Trina, Yingli, Suntech, JA, Jinko and Renesola as the most likely beneficiaries.