Why Solar Photovoltaic Companies Can’t Compete with Cheap Chinese Panels

In early 2011, the solar energy sector was growing quickly throughout the world, with money pouring into a variety of exciting companies and projects.

But about a year and a half ago, the growth of the manufacturing segment began to slow, and a variety of promising companies were shuttered, according to a solar energy expert.

But why?

One of the main reasons was that China began producing massive amounts of cheap photovoltaic cells, which put companies around the world out of business, said David Faiman, a solar energy expert at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, at a recent media briefing. (According to the Harvard Business Review, prices for cells have plummeted more than 65 percent from 2011-2012.)

This also hurt other renewable energy companies, which suffered when investors shifted funds to watts produced from these cheap solar panels, Faiman said. But energy from photovoltaic cells is not the same as that from other related renewable energy sources such as solar thermal (which derives energy from heating water), though they are lumped together as renewables.

“‘Photovoltaic energy is now much cheaper