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Tier 1 Solar Panel List Q12017


Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) is frequently requested by clients for a list of 'major' or 'bankable' suppliers - in common industry parlance, tier 1 suppliers - for use in manufacturing forecasts, preliminary competitor analysis, and other internal comparisons. It is very common for industry players to refer to 'tier 1' players, but these terms are seldom defined or described, which is unhelpful for firms outside the solar industry trying to get a basic overview.

BNEF strongly recommend that module purchasers and banks do not use this list as a measure of quality, but instead consult a technical due diligence firm such as Edif ERA (formerly OST Energy), Sgurr Energy, DNV GL, Black & Veatch, TUV, E3, STS Certified, Clean Energy Associates, Solarbuyer, Enertis or Leidos Engineering. These would usually consider what factory the module comes from, as well as the brand, and give an informed opinion on whether the modules will perform as expected.

'Bankability' - whether projects using the solar products are likely to be offered non-recourse debt financing by banks - is the key criterion for tiering. Banks, and their technical due diligence providers, are extremely unwilling to disclose their whitelists of acceptable products. Bloomberg New Energy Finance therefore bases its criteria in what deals have been closed in the past, as tracked by our database -17,000 photovoltaic financings worldwide as of February 2017.

BNEF only tiers manufacturers which actually own production facilities and sell under their own brands. Companies which outsource production under brand names are not tiered. BNEF does not publish a tier 2 or 3 list.

Tier 1 module manufacturers are those which have provided own-brand, own-manufacture products to six different projects, which have been financed non-recourse by six different (non-development) banks, in the past two years. These 1.5MW+ deals must be tracked by our database, ie the project location (sufficiently to identify the project uniquely), capacity, developer, bank and module maker must be in the public domain. One exception is manufacturers which have filed for bankruptcy or a form of insolvency protection, or experienced a major default on bond payments; these are removed from the tier 1 list until further notice.


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