Yinglis photovoltaic shipments hiked 43% year-on-year, overtaking Suntech and First Solar, the two largest suppliers in 2011. First Solar ranked second, while Suntech slipped to fifth place, behind Trina Solar and Canadian Solar, said IHS.
The only European company that made it to the top ten was REC which clinched ninth position. It grew much faster than its Chinese competitors in 2012, increasing its shipment volume by 31% to 757 MW.
In 2012, the photovoltaic industry continued its consolidation by growing 14%. Nonetheless, many players exited the business, and many of the top ten suppliers lost market share last year.
"Canadian Solar, as well as JinkoSolar and Hanwha SolarOne were the only top 10 companies that managed to grow merchant module shipments at a double-digit rate in 2012 in addition to Yingli and REC, of course," explained Stefan de Haan, principal analyst for solar at IHS. "SunPower and Trina grew at a slower pace, while Suntech, First Solar and Sharp from Japan saw declining shipment volumes."
Meanwhile, Japans boom continued, with companies such as Solar Frontier and Kyocera expanding their output and shipments last year. Solar Frontier climbed from 14th place in 2011 to 11th in 2012, while Kyocera rose from 17th to 12th.
In addition, Chinese suppliers like ReneSola, Astronergy, Hareon Solar, and JA Solar also had strong performances, increasing their module shipments by more than 200 MW, respectively, in 2012.
With respect to the suppliers business models, a change of strategies was evident, with many expanding their businesses into new markets across the globe, rather than just focusing on the usual suspects, such as Germany and Italy, as they have done in the past.
For example, Yingli generated 24% of its 2012 revenue in China. Jinko shipped around 400 MW to China alone in 2012, while also building up a strong presence in South Africa.
For its part, Canadian Solar generated 26% of 2012 sales in the U.S. market and also showed a strong presence in Japan. Leading U.S. supplier First Solar, on the other hand, is currently positioning itself in the Latin America market.