Industry Expertise

Solar energy is a rapidly evolving industry that is becoming an increasingly large portion of the standard utility energy mix. CEA’s team members bring a high level of both commercial and engineering expertise developed through years of experience in the renewable energy industry. With an industry leading knowledge base and network, CEA takes pride in providing clients with insight into various aspects and components of the solar energy system.

Crystalline PV modules

The Industry

The crystalline solar PV module industry has over a fifty year track record of success and development in the energy sector. Over the past few years the global photovoltaic module sector has matured and become more mainstream, with rapid cost reductions and globalization of the supply chain attracting manufacturers to scale operations. Allocating significant resources towards the construction of solar energy plants and developing economies of scale in order to manage such decreases in average selling price has led to a shift in the market. Consequently, while future growth may be muted, global energy market share in countries with large amounts of sunlight will likely continue to grow. Chinese manufacturers, thanks to favorable cost structures, economies of scale, and government incentives, have become very attractive to CEA’s downstream partners who are seeking ways to remain competitive while facing shrinking domestic subsidies. In 2005, manufacturers in Asia represented less than 5% of overall global production capacity; today, China produces over two thirds of the world’s PV modules.

The Technology

The photovoltaic process converts radiant solar energy into direct current electrical energy. Solar cells are small semiconducting devices, generally comprising a positive layer diffused on one side with a negative dopant to produce a current when bombarded by photons. Solar cells are then assembled into a module with various other encapsulation materials, through which electricity is processed and sent to an inverter, where it is converted into usable energy.

The Challenge

As the global market for PV modules becomes more attractive, many new Chinese manufacturers have emerged, with varying degrees of quality. Other more established companies have started cutting corners in an effort to meet high production quotas. In this environment, Western buyers of solar components need a diversified sourcing strategy and knowledge of how to deal with Chinese suppliers directly. Major supplier issues include:

  • Poor product appearance
  • Low product performance
  • Fire and electrical safety risk
  • High quality suppliers relying on OEMs
  • Poor in-house testing
  • Negligence of triple-bottom line standards
  • Questionable financial situation

The CEA Advantage

International downstream companies that wish to benefit from Chinese market advantages must structure their relationships with care in order to avoid common pitfalls that arise while engaging in international business. Clean Energy Associates (CEA) is keenly aware of the need for trusted advisors who understand the operating environment in China and Asia in addition to the solar PV value chain and global business climate. By engaging the executive management teams of top-tier and rising second-tier solar component suppliers, CEA can assist clients in achieving market-leading terms and conditions for their procurement and quality assurance needs. In addition, with unstable supply chain and international trade tariff conditions, CEA’s international team of solar professionals provide clients with a clear path towards future solar success.