Yellow sun with three sun rays coming off the bottom right corner with the letters REC in black, bold to the rightREC, Renewable Energy Corporation ASA, solar panels were ranked no. 9 by IMS Research in 2012. They are the only supplier in the top 10 that are headquartered in Europe. According to the report, China’s Yingli is the largest global supplier of solar panels based on annual merchant shipments.

Top10 Suppliers 12Yingli increased its merchant shipment by 43% putting them in first place in front of First Solar and Trina Solar. REC grew faster than most of their Chinese competitors increasing 31% to 757 megawatts. The report says, “REC strengthened its position as a leading player in a highly competitive environment.”

According to Energy Matters, REC says it has significantly reduced net debt; opposing the industry trend of rising debt levels, and is competitive with tier one suppliers through one of the most integrated and automated production facilities in the industry.

In a very challenging market, many companies have closed or merged with others in recent months. In 2011, the top 10 suppliers accounted for 46% of global shipments whereas in 2012, they only accounted to 40% combined. Despite these hard times, Yingli, REC, Canadian Solar, Jinko Solar and Hanwha SolarOne were the only ones able to grow their module shipment numbers with double digit increases.

“Japanese suppliers Solar Frontier and Kyocera expanded output and shipments massively in 2012, and both benefited from the current boom in Japan,” explained Stefan de Haan, principal analyst for solar at IHS. “Solar Frontier climbed from No. 14 in 2011 to 11th place in 2012, while Kyocera rose from No. 17 to No. 12.”

Chinese Renesola, Astronergy, Hareon Solar and JA Solar each raised their shipments by over 200 megawatts each in 2012.

The press release also notes that the solar PV markets are expanding. Previously, a big presence in Germany and Italy was enough to sustain a top successful business whereas now, the key markets have increased globally and moved out of Europe.