Japanese Companies, which were the leading solar companies in the early part of the century have steadily lost the top global rankings to Chinese companies. Now many of the top Japanese Solar Energy Companies are retreating from markets and manufacturing completely.
Sharp, which was the largest solar company in 2009 and 2010 has radically restructured its strategy, but is still losing market share. Panasonic, the second biggest solar company has closed down its Japanese factory. Other Japanese solar companies like Mitsubishi and Kyocera are also being forced to rethink solar panel manufacturing.
Sumco which is the 2nd biggest producer of semiconductor wafers is closing down its solar wafer division after reporting a massive loss in 2011. The company will close 2 of its solar wafer divisions and shed more than 1,000 jobs.
Many of the Western companies like REC and Schott have already closed their solar wafer divisions due to a 70% reduction in solar wafer price in 2011. Only big Solar Wafer Producers like GCL and Renesola can be expected to survive the biggest down cycle in the solar industry.
Note: Most of the higher cost producers in the solar industry are effectively bankrupt and are only being supported by government or big parents. Many Western companies have already closed or are on the verge of closing. Some of the bankrupt companies are not finding buyers of their equipment even at 10c/dollar. Massive overcapacity remains in the solar industry, particularly in China which is not being taken out fast enough and could possibly lead to a very tough year for solar stocks in 2012.