4 of top 5 PV module manufacturers are China-based

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China’s Suntech Power was found to be the biggest photovoltaic module manufacturer globally for the second consecutive year, having become the first company to ship over two gigawatts (GW) of modules. U.S.-based thin film manufacturer, First Solar, the only non-Chinese player, ranked second in IMS Research’s report, also for the second time.

The remaining top five was comprised of Yingli Green Energy, Trina Solar and Canadian Solar, which although technically established in Canada, is classed by IMS Research as a Chinese supplier, since the majority of its operations are based there.

Ranking seventh, JinkoSolar was also the only new company to enter IMS Research’s top ten list, having doubled its annual shipments in 2011. Sharp, SunPower, Hanwha SolarOne and Kyocera also featured.

IMS Research additionally noted that considerable consolidation occurred amongst the photovoltaic module supplier base in 2011.

"Leading suppliers were able to leverage their strong brands to grow their shipments in highly competitive market conditions in 2011," commented Sam Wilkinson, senior market analyst. "[The year] claimed a number of victims, but nearly all of the top-ten suppliers grew their shipments and collectively they accounted for nearly half of total industry shipments."