By John West, Managing Director, VLSI Research Europe Ltd.
In the few years since the PV cell and module manufacturing industry first hit the radar, the identities of the winners and losers in the race to supply equipment have started to emerge. While some companies can genuinely claim to have been involved in the solar industry for some time, the majority are relatively new on the scene. This is hardly surprising, as the explosive growth in demand spurred any company with matching competences into action. In fact, over 300 equipment companies have been attracted to the industry since 2003 by the prospect of a share in a market valued at $4.4 billion in 2008. For the first time, a detailed analysis of the PV equipment suppliers has been compiled by VLSI Research. The Top 10 in this list are presented here and discussed in relation to their achievements in the industry and their outlook for 2009 and beyond.