LDK Solar Bankruptcy. Who will be next?

LDK solar logo

Can LDK drag itself out of Bankruptcy?

Another large solar panel manufacturer appears to be in serious financial trouble. Bloomberg is reporting that LDK Solar, the world’s largest producer of wafers by capacity, has put it’s US operations into bankruptcy with over a billion dollars of debt.

LDK is classed as a Tier 1 solar panel manufacturer in many global rankings, so news of the the LDK Solar Bankruptcy raises the question of whether choosing a Tier 1 solar panel is such a safe bet these days.

Certainly looking at the finances of many huge solar companies can be a depressing exercise with lots of debt and tiny or negative margins in many cases.

So what’s a consumer to do in the face of such uncertainty?

I’ve come to the conclusion that if you want to maximise the chance of choosing a solar panel whose manufacturer will still be around in 10 years time then the list of manufacturers you should consider is actually very short.

I’ve looked at the latest reports and research into the ‘bankability’ of the large panel manufacturers and, while nothing is certain these days, if I was looking to buy Tier 1 panels today in late 2014, these are the manufacturers I would consider the safest:

  • Canadian Solar
  • CSUN
  • ET Solar
  • Hanwha Solar One
  • JA Solar
  • Jinko Solar
  • Kyocera
  • Mitsubishi
  • Panasonic
  • Q-Cells
  • REC
  • Renesola
  • Sharp
  • Sun Edison
  • Sunpower
  • Trina Solar
  • Yingli

If you disagree with any of these or think I’ve missed a bankable Tier 1 manufacturer off the list, please let rip in the comments!

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and founder of SolarQuotes.com.au. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division.

Comments

  1. derbyiters says

    And maybe you should also consider & look at how many SOLAR PANEL COMPANIES HAVE DONE A MIDNIGHT FLITE, too !
    # For there are so many regional towns around Australia, have been screwed over BIGTIME too… And the ‘CEC’ are still threatening to charge me for what they claim, ” That I am INTERFERRING IN THEM WITHOUT A PERMIT,nor approved licence from them ! ”

    # well! somebody needs to fix/repair their ‘F up’s ! Or none of them will gain any benefit of what’s left to be claimed from having them installed,eh….

    Just another bloody big SCAMMING CON, of the panic filled world we live in… Nothing else is of concern to the silly purchaser of rubbish from unqualified money greedy shits !

  2. Hmmm, Whilst getting a quote recently, the sale person suggested that Renesola were also close to bankruptcy. Maybe because he was flogging another brand, but it does put doubts in ones mind.

    • In recent survey of experts by Bloomberg, Renesola ranked as the 10th most bankable Solar Panel brand with 80% judging it “bankable”.

      • Oh dearie me!
        From an authoritative post on the Yingli site as re. the Bloomberg ‘Tier 1’ ratings :- “A bank would not back a project worth say a $20 million dollars if the product used was likely to fail in the short-term.”

        So the banks rely on the Bloomberg ratings, while Bloomberg’s ratings are largely based on what the banks think of the particular panel. (ie. what they’ll fund.) lol!

        The best advice, as always, is:- suck it and see. Failing that, ask the man who owns one.
        And be suspicious.
        I’m personally more than satisfied with my Perlight 170-watt/24-volt array (which in just-so conditions can perform over 20% better than their rating, and have more than lived up to expectations for going-on five years. What’s more, I’ll tell anyone who wants to know so.
        However, in response to a query I googled up ‘Perlight’ and found a whole lot of anomalies ~everything from ‘efficiency’ ratings varying from 13.3 up to 15.8 for the same panels, and FF ratios from about 73 (mediocre) to 78 (better than average). My hands-on observations have demonstrated that Perlight 250-watt panels operate almost exactly as efficiently as the 170-watt ones ~ except in very hot weather, when the bigger panels can perform up to about 18% less efficiently than the smaller ones. ( I suspect the greater mass impedes the shedding of heat to some degree.

        In customer-care terms Perlight has come up trumps (read up on the Californian fisaco), but that may vary quite a lot depending on which region help is required, judging from Google entries.

        Finally, it appears that the ‘tier’ ratings are more or less a hotch-potch of varying parameters and bench-marks the conclusions from which are about as reliable as anyone’s interpretation of the bible:- all things to all men. I learnt that Perlight don’t get a mention (or else a lower rating) in the in the Bloomberg world because they only have a few thousand employees, as opposed to tens-of- thousands working for other companies ~ and the same can be said for Rolls-Royce.
        So let’s not forget that ‘the bigger they are the harder they fall’, even if they don’t fall as often.

        As always, get a warranty you can enforce no matter what happens to the ‘company’.
        Brand-names mean bugger-all. It was the almighty $US that crashed twice in living memory.

        ps. I make a more-than-tidy living in the markets, and for the last 15 years or so I’ve received thousands of unsolicited ‘tips’ and other advice about how to get rich trading shares from experts all over the world, accompanied by graphs and charts and notes from their mums attesting to how clever their offspring is. (are?)
        I sometimes reply:- If you’re so fucking clever how come you’re ‘working’ for a living.
        To date nobody’s responded.

    • derbyiters says

      Yeah, and most of those that a smashing & CRASHING INTO THY WALL OF BANKRUPTACY IS EASY TO FIND AS A FISH AT LOW TIDE TOO ! [yep,we got 11mtr tides here :p]..,
      They have just made it buyer beware, and if ya get burnt from them ( ITS YOUR LOSS, AND YOU SUFFER along with any other creditors involved ! ) but, ya get a shoddy/ shit job,with NO support or warranty when they are gone down thy drain ….

      Then, ya gotta depend on the local contractor of sorting out the SHIT THEY LEAVE EVERYWHERE,BEHIND THEM

  3. aaaah. Experts! Well that settles it then, doesn’t it. lol!

    The trick is to deal with ~ and get a warranty from ~ the installer personally. The bloke that installed my system (and the systems of several friends I put in touch with him) had no problem with that.
    It’s your money, Ralph; you make the rules.

    • The same survey had 87% of respondents classing LDK as non-bankable.

      • And for once the majority was right! However, just because LDK went belly-up doesn’t mean that the others can’t also. Keep your recourses local; and at the very least try to ensure that you get a product that won’t NEED back-up. Yep, they DO exist, rare though they be.)
        A bunch of panels I bought 2nd-hand in 1983 are still producing at about 80% of their (45-watt) rating.
        The biggest panels available back then were 64 watts, and around $15 per watt was considered a good deal.

  4. Once again, Finn, you omit Perlight Solar.
    Why? Do you know something I don’t?
    Great product ~ often performs better than its rating; worldwide backup ~ though I’ve not heard of anyone actually needing to call on it. And, as mentioned elsewhere, the (qualified) bloke who supplied and installed my system was willing to guarantee them personally.
    What better recommendation?
    … and no, I don’t own the company! But I’ve been involved in solar power for probably longer than you’ve been alive, so don’t get seduced by the glitz, and I reckon credit should be given where it’s due.

    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks for the comment.

      This is a list of Tier 1 solar companies rated “Bankable” by a majority of experts in a recent survey.

      It is hard to find data on Perlight because they are a smaller, Tier 3 manufacturer.

      Feel free to send through any info on them though. I’d love to know more about them.

  5. Hi Finn, What about Phono? They are a big Tier one company?

  6. I’m surprised Suntech aren’t on the list.

  7. Solarworld are now backed by the Qatar Foundation and I believe are very bankable now

  8. Hi all,
    Phono solar are definately Tier one Bloomberg since February 2014.
    They also offer Dual Glass Modules and have testing programs with Power One which is owned by ABB!!! Also have in place a Global Strategic alliance to sell Photovoltaic systems with Power one inverters. A fortune 500 company through SUMEC group they are quite a force to be reconned with.
    Advanced Solar Tech is the sole distributor in Western Australia and Phono Solar Autralia has their offices in NSW.

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