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Bloomberg Q4 2016 Company ranking Tier 1 PV module makers

Release:2017/04/10 Company News

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has developed a tiering system for PV module makers based on bankability, to create a transparent differentiation between the hundreds of manufacturers of solar modules on the market. This basic categorisation has been used as an advertisement by certain manufacturers, but should never replace a proper due diligence process in product selection.

 

1.WHY DIVIDE THE PV MARKET INTO TIERS?

Bloomberg New Energy Finance is frequently requested by clients for a list of ‘major’ or ‘bankable’ suppliers – in common industry parlance, tier 1 suppliers – for use in manufacturing forecasts, preliminary competitor analysis, and other internal comparisons. It is very common for industry players to refer to ‘tier 1’ players, but these terms are seldom defined or described, which is unhelpful for firms outside the solar industry trying to get a basic overview.

 

We strongly recommend that module purchasers and banks do not use this list as a measure of quality, but instead consult a technical due diligence firm such as Edif ERA (formerly OST Energy), Sgurr Energy, DNV GL, Black & Veatch, TUV, E3, STS Certified, Clean Energy Associates, Solarbuyer, Enertis or Leidos Engineering. These would usually consider what factory the module comes from, as well as the brand, and give an informed opinion on whether the modules will perform as expected.

 

2.DEFINITIONS

‘Bankability’ – whether projects using the solar products are likely to be offered non-recourse debt financing by banks – is the key criterion for tiering. Banks, and their technical due diligence providers, are extremely unwilling to disclose their whitelists of acceptable products. Bloomberg New Energy Finance therefore bases its criteria in what deals have been closed in the past, as tracked by our database -14,900 photovoltaic financings worldwide as of November 2016.

 

We only tier manufacturers which actually own production facilities and sell under their own brands. Companies which outsource production under brand names are not tiered. We do not publish a tier 2 or 3 list.

 

3.TIER 1

Tier 1 module manufacturers are those which have provided own-brand, own-manufacture products to five different projects, which have been financed non-recourse by five different (non-development) banks, in the past two years. From Q1 2017 this will increase to six.

 

These 1.5MW+ deals must be tracked by our database, ie the project location (sufficiently to identify the project uniquely), capacity, developer, bank and module maker must be in the public domain. One exception is manufacturers which have filed for bankruptcy or a form of insolvency protection, or experienced a major default on bond payments; these are removed from the tier 1 list until further notice.

 

This classification is purely a measure of industry acceptance, and there are many documented examples of quality issues or bankruptcy of tier 1 manufacturers.

 

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