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The Solar Shakeout: Who Will Thrive, Survive, Or Dive?

Lux Research says that Q-Cells subsidiary Solibro and start-up Miasolé are dominant innovators in CIGS technology. Furthermore, Amonix has broken away from its competitors followed by Concentrix and Solaria, while the rest of the CPV field struggles.

 Despite a strong opening to 2010 for the solar market, manufacturers are now bracing themselves for further price declines and stiffer competition according to Lux Research. Lux Research provides strategic advice and on-going intelligence for emerging technologies.

 As module makers prepare for a renewed trench war based on production scale, inverter players aim to stake their competitive territory based on performance improvements and novel architectures.

The new report entitled “Sorting Solar Module and Inverter Manufacturers on the Lux Innovation Grid" assesses the likely winners and losers in the renewed solar shakeout. It analyzes the competitiveness of module-makers in crystalline silicon (x-Si), thin-film silicon (TF-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), and concentrated photovoltaics (CPV).

The report also compares inverter makers competing for residential/small commercial and large commercial/utility markets.

“As the solar industry braces for a renewed shakeout, identifying which module- and inverter-makers have the greatest value is more important than ever," said Jason Eckstein, a research associate at Lux Research and the report’s lead author. “The Lux Innovation Grid provides an intuitive tool for assessing the performance of individual companies and the technology space in which they compete."

In preparing its report, Lux Research drew from information gathered during more than 200 interviews with executives of solar companies. It scored companies based on the strength of their technologies, business execution and relative maturity in the marketplace. Based on these scores, each company was then assigned a position on the Lux Innovation Grid to compare their competitiveness against other players sharing the space. Some more notable trends the report observes include:

Lux says that while familiar trends continue to advance in x-Si, TF-Si and CdTe, clear leaders have finally emerged in CIGS and CPV. Among CIGS players, Q-Cells subsidiary Solibro and start-up Miasolé have moved into the Lux Innovation Grid’s “dominant" quadrant.

Meanwhile, in the CPV category, Amonix has broken away from its competitors followed by Concentrix and Solaria, while the rest of the CPV field struggles.

Technology improvements provide an edge among inverter players. Despite their lead in the large commercial-scale and utility-scale segments, SMA and Siemens are technologically surpassed by innovative companies like Advanced Energy and Satcon, which could both easily move into the “dominant" quadrant with greater scale and execution.

Start-ups appearing in the Lux Innovation Grid’s “dominant" quadrant are likely IPO candidates. Amonix, Enphase, and Abound Solar have all met critical milestones over the past year and are in strong positions to launch successful IPOs in the coming year. Enphase is likely to move the most quickly, having already reached high sales volumes in the inverter market.

Lux Research provides strategic advice and on-going intelligence for emerging technologies. 
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