The 2007 numbers are in, and there is a new winner.
Q-Cells AG (FRA: QCE) is now the single largest producer of solar cells in the world. With production of 370 megawatts (MW) worth in 2007, the company held off the now second place Sharp Corp. (TYO: 6753) and the third place Suntech Power Co., Ltd (NYSE: STP)
Kyocera Corporation (NYSE: KYO) is expected to finish fourth, with Wall Street blockbuster First Solar (NYSE: FSLR) slated for a fifth place finish.
Why am I telling you this?
Because companies the world over are ramping up production of solar cells and the components needed to make them.
Q-Cells, for example, ramped up production 46% to 370 MW in 2007, up from 253 MW in 2006.
Suntech expanded production even more rapidly, jumping 127% in one year.
And all of these companies would certainly have produced more cells if there were an abundant supply of silicon feedstock, which there isn’t–at least for the moment.
But many solar analysts, myself included, believe the current polysilicon supply crunch will begin to subside this year, paving the way for even higher levels of solar cell production.
Yet, the decision looms of which company to play in this huge bull market. Sharp and Kyocera aren’t pure plays, so choosing them could leave you open to volatility in other segments of the electronic and semiconductor industries.
And the pure players, like First Solar and Suntech, are still jockeying for a leadership position while using different technologies; First Solar makes cadmium telluride cells and Suntech makes crystalline cells.
Who knows which one of these technologies will win? I suspect we’ll continue to see a combination for quite some time. And it’s possible to make money playing both in the mean time.
But the Green Chip team has uncovered a way to rake in gains in the solar sector by playing a completely different angle: installers.
Because no matter which companies are making the solar cells or which technologies are used, they all need to be installed. And we’ve uncovered a company that will go gangbusters in the solar installer arena.
I urge you to learn more about this blockbuster solar installer.
Until next time,