Solar cell manufacturing capacity will grow 56 percent in 2009 despite weakened demand for renewable energy projects in the face of tight credit markets and a global economic recession, a report issued on Monday by research group DisplaySearch said.
The report predicts that cell manufacturing capacity will reach 17 gigawatts this year and will surpass 42 GW by 2013, growing at a rate of 49 percent per year.
Despite demand for photovoltaic panels shrinking 17 percent this year and an "enormous over-supply" eroding prices, the solar industry will "begin working through this excess capacity as demand recovers next year and takes off in 2011 and beyond," said Charles Annis, vice president of manufacturing research for DisplaySearch and author of the report.
Expansion projects that were previously committed are driving the growth in capacity despite falling demand, the report said. From January 2008 to July 2009, about 11.4 GW of new solar cell capacity was installed worldwide.
The report named U.S.-based company First Solar Inc as the largest solar cell manufacturer with more than 1 GW of capacity. Germany's Q-Cells AG and China's Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd come in second.
By 2013, these companies and China's JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd, Taiwan's Motech Industries Inc, Norway's Renewable Energy Corp, U.S.-based SunPower Corp, China's Yingli Green Energy Holding Co Ltd, and Japan's Showa Shell Sekiyu KK and Sharp Corp may be among the top 10 makers, with more than 16 GW, or 38 percent, of total capacity in 2013, the report said.
DisplaySearch is part of the NPD Group.