JinkoSolar Holding Co. is now the world’s largest maker of solar panels.
In the past decade alone, four different companies — all Chinese — have surged to the top of the heap, becoming the biggest solar maker in the world, only to subsequently fall flat and get overtaken by an up-and-comer.
China accounts for 70 percent of the $161 billion global solar-panel market, having long pushed its companies to pursue a growth-at-any-cost strategy. But while driving down prices, these companies too often piled on debt to expand rapidly while sticking with aging technology and machinery.
That strategy may make JinkoSolar vulnerable to emerging Chinese rivals, like Longi Green Energy Technology Co. and Risen Energy Co., as well as to U.S. manufacturers such as First Solar Inc. Aided by President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported panels and armed with the lowest production cost in the industry, First Solar is poised to grab some of China’s share.
Dany Qian, global vice president, said JinkoSolar has learned from some of the missteps made by its predecessor and has built a more flexible supply chain as it expanded.
“We are much more conservative in capacity expansion and avoid long-term upstream supply contracts,” Qian said in an emailed statement.