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Solar Consolidation May Claim 180 Makers by 2015: GTM

About 180 solar manufacturers will probably fail or get bought by 2015 as overcapacity and low prices drive a wave of consolidation, according to GTM Research.

Almost half of those companies are based in the U.S., Europe and Canada, where manufacturing costs are high and producers can’t compete with lower-priced panels from China, the Boston-based research company said today in a report.

The solar industry has about 35 gigawatts of excess production capacity, which is driving down prices and will push struggling companies out of the market, Shyam Mehta, a New York- based senior solar analyst at GTM, said in an interview.

“We expect most of the manufacturing in the the high-cost areas to close,” said Mehta. The change will be “pretty brutal, pretty quick outside of China,” where slow capacity rationalization will make things “difficult for everybody.”

There are about 54 “solar zombies” in China that will probably close or get bought, companies that are operating with government support and may have less than 300 megawatts of capacity, the report said.

There’s about twice as much solar production capacity as needed, and total global demand for panels may be 28.8 gigawatts to 35.2 gigawatts this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Supply and demand may be more in balance by 2014, according to the report. The top solar manufacturers in 2015 will include Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ), First Solar Inc. (FSLR), Hanwha SolarOne Co., JA Solar Holdings Co. and JinkoSolar Holding Co.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ehren Goossens in New York at egoossens1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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