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Who's Hot and Who's Not?The State of SoCal Solar 2013 - Part 2


  01:09:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 1469 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, 2013

Who's Hot and Who's Not?
The State of SoCal Solar 2013 - Part 2

In Part 1 of this series we laid out our methodology and identified some trends in the CSI data for the first half of 2013.  Here in Part 2 we are going to see who is hot and who’s not as we continue to assess the State of SoCal Solar, 2013.

For this analysis, we left out projects from the MASH program.  We also excluded delisted projects but included both pending and completed.  That leaves a total of 13,946 projects overall for these analyses.

Top Solar Module Manufacturers

We begin by looking at the leading solar module manufacturers as evidenced in the SoCal market.  We break this down by Residential and Commercial market segments and we will also look at sold versus third-party owned systems.

There are two ways to look at who’s on top - by number of projects using a particular manufacturer’s product or by total number of modules being used - we will report both stats.  (One caveat - CSI data allows for up to seven different module manufacturers to be associated with any one project.  However, for this analysis, we are only looking at the first manufacturer listed.  There is not a great loss of visibility from this choice; out of 13,946 total projects, 13,824 - or 99% - only specified one module manufacturer.)

Oh, and of some note, one particularly infamous module manufacturer is nowhere to be seen in the data - Recom - and how fitting is that?

Residential Market

In the Residential market segment, there are 13,619 total projects and 90 different solar module manufacturers represented (compared to 97 last year), accounting for some 337,476 modules being designated (compared to 228,372 last year - an increase of 47.7%).  Only 16 manufacturers managed to capture more than 1% of the total modules used (compared to 15 last year) - here they are:

Residential market module winners

Yingli Energy from China has snatched the top spot from SunPower (last year’s champ) even though SunPower continues to hold the edge in total number of projects using their products.  Sadly, Sanyo - now owned by Panasonic - did not even crack this list, reaching just 7/10 of 1% of the total.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Those are the results overall but does it matter whether you slice the data by purchased versus leased systems?  Indeed it does.  For purchased systems, beleaguered German module maker SolarWorld grabs the lead with 13% of all sales (10,411 units) followed by SunPower 12% (9,643 units), Canadian Solar 10% (7,396 units), SMX Capital 10% (7,912 units) and Sharp 5.6% (4,453 units).  For leased (i.e., third-party owned) systems the leaders shift again: Yingli Energy recaptures first place with 22% (56,843 units) followed by Trina Solar 20.7% (53,375 units), SunPower 19.1% (49,149 units), REC Solar 9.6% (24,718 units) and LG Electronics 7% (18,066 units).

As for specific models, here are the top ten:

Top ten module models residential market


Trina Solar breaks through with four of the top ten models (although two are functionally the same). But this year SunPower has the most specified module model in the Residential market as designated in the CSI data!

Commercial Market

Turning to the Commercial market, 48 different manufacturers are represented in the data (down from 60 a year ago), accounting for the sales of 291,227 modules (down from 350,360 last year - a drop of 17%). Showing greater diversity at the top of the heap than in the Residential market, some 21 different manufacturers made it above the 1% of sales threshold.  Here they are:

Commercial solar modules by salesMEMC Singapore takes the lead over SunPower, selling 40,830 units compared to SunPower’s 37,858 - despite SunPower having a clear advantage in the number of projects for which they were selected (10.4% compared to MEMC’s 6.4%).

So who is MEMC Singapore?  We had never heard of them before - and they did not crack the 1% mark in last year’s analysis.  Turns out MEMC Singapore is a subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. - which also owns SunEdison.  We found this news report from last April indicating that Fox Energy - the PV arm of Foxconn Technology (of iPhone fame) - had entered into an agreement with MEMC Singapore for Fox to manufacture up to 350 MW of solar modules at a facility in Juarez, Mexico - for SunEdison.  Indeed, according to the data, SunEdison is the solar company using these modules.

Meanwhile, last year’s leader - Suntech - fell to fourth place this year as it deals with insolvency.

As for the most popular commercial solar module models, here are the top five: SunPower’s SPR-327NE (31,366 units), MEMC Singapore MEMC-M315 (23,554 units), Schuco USA MPE 240 (11,583 units), Suniva OPT315 (11,179 units) and Trina Solar TSM-240 (10,162 units).

Top Inverter Manufacturers

Analyzing inverter sales is a bit different since many projects have multiple inverters and, in the case of systems with microinverters there is one inverter per solar module.  So it is not too revealing to report that Enphase sold 17 times as many inverters as its nearest rival, Power-One.  Instead, as we did last year, we will look at this by the percentage of projects that designated a particular manufacturer’s product as Inverter #1 in the data.

Residential Market

Twenty-nine manufactures are represented in the data (up from 24 last year), but only 7 exceeded 1% of projects (down from 8 last year).  Here they are:

Residential inverters - 2013Hottest of the hot is Power-One with 31.5% of all residential projects (up from just 16% last year!), followed by Enphase at 26.5% (up from 21%), SMA at 16.3% (down from 31%), SunPower at 10.4% (down from 16%), and Fronius at 7.9% (down from 10%) rounding out the top five.

In the past SMA has observed, correctly, that you must add-in the market share from SunPower since those are all SMA inverters re-branded for SunPower.  True in the past, but somewhat less so today.  Looking at the specific inverter models designated under SunPower shows that only 8.3% of SunPower’s 10.4% share is attributable to SMA, with the rest going to inverters made by Fronius and AC modules (which use SolarBridge microinverters).

Once again, does the data change significantly if we compare sold versus leased systems?  It does indeed - in the sold category, Enphase dominates with 41.7% compared to SMA at 18.5%, Power-One at 13.3%, SunPower at 8.3% and SolarEdge at 6.1%.  For leased systems we get: Power-One at 36.9%, Enphase at 22.1%, SMA at 15.7%, SunPower at 11% and Fronius at 8.6%.

Commercial Market

Turning to the Commercial market, 19 manufacturers are found in the data, with 13 of them holding more than 1% market share.  Here they are:

Commercial inverter market share - 1h2013Wow - now that is a surprise: Enphase has taken over the Number 1 spot!  Enphase jumped to 13.2% of commercial projects with Power-One right behind at 12.5%, SatCon (last year’s leader but now in bankruptcy) at 11.6%, SMA at 10.7% and Fronius at 10.1% rounding out the top five.

As SatCon dropped 15%, someone had to pick up the slack and it appears that Enphase got the lion’s share - moving up 9% from last year.  Here’s your overall hot/not hot chart:

Hot/not hot - commercial inverters 1h2013

Popular Pairings

The data would suggest that we could have nearly 3,200 different pairings of module and inverter manufactures, but in reality, the combinations that actually occur are far fewer.  Here are the most popular pairings in the data overall:

module-inverter pairings - 1h2013

Collectively, these top five pairings account for just under 45% of all projects in the data, and SunPower continues to demonstrate the joy of vertical integration - but its advantage isn’t as strong as it was last year when its pairings accounted for over 19% of all projects.  As would be expected by its hot performance overall in the inverter category, Power-One was part of the leading pair for three manufacturers and Enphase cracked the top five with REC Solar.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

Now let’s see what these products are commanding in price.  We will look across all projects (excluding delisted and MASH) to see what panels are involved with systems commanding the highest $/W.  Here are our results:

Price solar modulesKeep in mind that the overall average cost was just $5.24/W - and yet we have modules being used in project at two to three times as much.  Nor are the majority of these what you would call top-tier manufacturers - confirming once again, that spending a lot of money is no guarantee of getting quality in return.

Interestingly, the Sun Energy panels at the top of this list were also at the top of the list last year - only the system cost has actually increased from $16.02 to $16.38/W!

Who Uses What?

Finally, we shift our emphasis from equipment manufacturers to look at who is installing what.  Here’s a list of all installation companies with 100 or more projects and the modules and inverters they use the most:

Who uses what? CSI 1H2013Couple things of note here.  First, SolarCity has taken the number 1 spot from Verengo and by a comfortable margin. Second, SMA doesn’t crack this list until the 10th ranked installer.  Meanwhile, Power-One has four in the top ten and Enphase has three with Fronius making the top ten twice.

Altogether, overall inverter leader Power-One was the preferred vendor for 7 installers (average loyalty 58%), Enphase was preferred by 8 installers (loyalty 87%), Fronius by 2 (loyalty 74%), SMA by 4 (loyalty 58%) and SunPower by 3 (loyalty 59%).

Collectively, the 24 companies on this chart accounted for 9,805 of the projects in the overall data set - 70.3%.  But did that volume lead to better prices for their clients?  We will try to answer that question - and possibly raise a few more - in our next post: Outliers & Oddities.


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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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