Editor and guest blogs have continued to be a major attraction to the vast number of readers of PV Tech’s website. Based on traffic data provided by Google Analytics we are once again sharing the top 10 most read blogs from this year, itself a popular read in past years.
Overall the subject matter that garnered the most page views continues to be of a diverse nature. Included in the list are blogs that covered the downstream PV market and the investment strategy of Warren Buffet to the upstream sector that included polysilicon and solar cell manufacturing technology trends.
At number 10 in the rankings was a guest blog by regular contributor, Finlay Colville of NPD Solarbuzz. Entitled, ‘Would the leading PV equipment supplier please stand up?’ the blog drew reader’s attention to the long-suffering equipment sector and the disruptive trends in that sector that would lead to a shift in market share rankings.
The good news since the blog was written is that overcapacity has been reduced and end-market demand has improved significantly. Although the equipment suppliers have yet to benefit much from the return to full-factory utilisation rates, it’s now more a case of ‘when’ than ‘if’.
At number nine is an editor’s blog I penned, entitled ‘What the Buffett factor really means for solar’. The blog was in response to major news that received global mainstream media attention when a subsidiary of legendary investor, Warren Buffett, acquired PV power plants being built by SunPower.
The downstream or PV energy provider (PVEP) business model has been a major trend in 2013 as has the topic of low-cost finance driving the PV industry into the mainstream utility marketplace. They both support the view that unsubsidised solar energy and global market penetration is well underway.
In eighth place is another blog from me, this time an analysis of R&D spending by major integrated PV manufacturers, entitled ‘R&D spending analysis of top 10 PV module manufacturers’.
This is the second year I have trawled through the financial statements of these companies to highlight the correlations and sometimes the lack of correlation between R&D spending behaviour and market position of PV manufacturers.
Returning at seventh place is Finlay Colville with his guest post on the business plans of China-based Hanergy. Entitled ‘Hanergy’s major CIGS plans unveiled with 5.25GW of turnkey capacity’, the blog was in response to a lengthy and legal jargon-heavy financial filing that made every effort to bore and confuse everyone, especially rivals, as to the company’s future plans in the thin-film market.
Hanergy has been in the news spotlight through most of the year due to its recent wave of Western company acquisitions focused on CIGS thin-film technology and move downstream to become a major PV player of the future.
A shift away from the norm in the popularity stakes was a blog written by Felicity Carus, PV Tech’s US contributing editor entitled, ‘Could Kurzweil be right about solar, the Google of energy?’, referring to Ray Kurzweil, a technology thought leader and now a Google employee.
Felicity wrote about Kurzweil after attending an event where he spoke for two hours about the impact of exponential versus linear growth in technology and highlighted the role PV will make as it becomes competitive with fossil fuels.
In fifth position was another very popular contribution from Felicity entitled ‘Quality issues threaten to give solar a black eye’, highlighting the continued need for PV manufacturers to be vigilant at all times when it comes to quality control and the implications a lapse in quality thinking can have.
The subject matter is ever-present at technical conferences but does not necessarily get the attention it deserves outside those circles. However, should readers of this article also read the Top 10 news stories from the year they will realise how seriously the subject of quality control is treated.
Earlier in the year, Finlay Colville noted in a guest blog that despite the increased dominance of Chinese PV manufacturers it shouldn’t be forgotten that a major leading powerhouse came from the US and used CdTe thin-film technology. In ‘First Solar chart-topping prevents talk about a revolution’, which came in at fourth place, Finlay went on to highlight that the PV industry is continuing to undergo dynamic changes and that new business models will continue to appear.
Finlay’s theme in this very popular blog has been an ongoing backdrop to where the industry is heading throughout this and most probably next year as well.
The third most viewed blog of 2013 was my analysis of the polysilicon market in 2012 and what was expected to occur in this most important of upstream sectors of the PV industry in 2013.
With support analysis from Bernreuter Research, ‘What next after the polysilicon apocalypse of 2012?’ highlighted that 2013 would be a recovery year for polysilicon players. Though that indeed has happened the price recovery in excess of US$20/kg did not occur.
In second place was another analysis of market trends, this time from Finlay Colville entitled, ‘What’s next for PV technology in 2013?’ The in-depth blog took a critical look at roadmaps for c-Si technology and concluded that there were not one but many roadmaps available for the industry to pursue. The hope was that by the end of 2013 a roadmap would emerge that the main body of the industry would align with. The jury remains out on that point as the next technology buy-cycle has yet to get underway.
It is perhaps befitting that in an article discussing ‘Top 10’ rankings, the most popular blog in 2013 was covering the Top 10 rankings of PV module manufacturers for 2012.
A guest blog entitled ‘Top 10 PV Module Suppliers in 2012’, Ray Lian, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz provided PV Tech with the first listing of the year for the leading module manufacturers from 2012 and one that marked significant changes after the second year of major overcapacity and profitless prosperity.
Ray concluded that less than 50% of global module demand in 2012 was provided by the top 10 suppliers, which suggested that further industry consolidation was required. With the exit of companies from the sector and acquisitions such as that of Wuxi Suntech by Shunfeng Photovoltaics in 2013, consolidation has indeed continued.
With the guest blog by Ray so popular and 2013 turning out to mark the end of overcapacity and for some a return to profitability we will be asking Ray again to provide analysis of the key industry players from 2013 as early as possible in the new year.
Top 10 blogs in ranked order: