Solar Power » Industry

Downstream Activities: Project Development, Distribution, Installation

Downstream activitiesDownstream activities consist of distribution (wholesale) and physical installation.


There is a large number of wholesalers, most of whom do not operate at globally. Some wholesalers have exclusive rights to distribute a specific module make in certain countries. But by and large, there are few distinguishing features.

Small Installations

Small installations for residential rooftop applications are implemented by local installers and electricians directly. Module manufacturers and distributors often maintain lists of certified installers nationawide. Tthis is a very fragemented segment of the value chain with very few companies that operate at national level, let alone globally.

Large Installations

Big projects undergo various stages of development even before construction can begin. Generally, this is a high-margin segment with some companies that are operating globally.

Downstream Activities in solar projects


Project Development

This phase consists of
  1. Assessment of the customer's needs and objectives;
  2. Identifying potential sites for a solar farm, acquiring land and securing the rights to use the site for the generation of solar electricity.
  3. Securing permits to construct, connect, integrate and operate the plant.
This is a very narrow view of Project Development. In most instances, project developers will also be involved in arranging financing as well as design and construction.


Due to high capital requirements for solar power generation, few large projects are financed by the sponsor's balance sheet. Instead, tailor-made financing is achieved through project finance.

Design & Engineering

Every site has its own specific characteristics including geographic location and solar radiation level, site topography, local regulations and requirements for grid connectivity. During the Design & Engineering phase, the optimal structure and choice of components will be determined, based on all input factors. This is largely following the sizing process described here.

Construction & Commissioning

The physical construction phase ends with the act of commissioning when the facility is handed over to the operator, which is in most instances a different organisation. To achieve this, most sponsors will ask for independent check by independent certification companies such as SGS.

Operation & Maintenance

Operation & Maintenance includes activities such as facility monitoring, cleaning solar glass, breakdown management, repair work and warranty management.


After 20 - 25 years, the system will have to be decommissioned and recycled where possible.



Name Country Comments Market Cap in € millions
Forward integrated Module manufacturers
Germany Produces own modules, also sells Trinasolar and others € 7.50
Germany Manufacturer of monocrystalline modules (14.2%) and polycrystalline modules (14.1%). Also distributes Platinum inverters and other componenets and offers turnkey solutions.
Germany Multi-crystalline cells with efficiency of more than 16%. But not integrated into modules. Sells branded modules and other products. € 66.00
Germany Conergy has abandoned bioenergy and solar thermal to just focus on photovoltaics in attempt to turn around operations. Fully integrated from modules to projects. € 238.00
Germany Sells own modules, € 6.00
Germany Sells systems and system solutions with branded inverters and modules from another subsidiary of parent company - Jumao Photonics
Germany Soleos manufactures polycrystalline modules. As a wholesaler it distributes its own modules, as well as thin-film modules from NexPower, monocrystalline modules from Suntech and inverters from Kaco as well as its own mounting systems.
Germany Besco offers the full range of products for solar systems, many of which can be customized.
Germany Wholesale of photovoltaic components and complete systems
Germany Wholesale of modules and system integration
Germany E-Energy is a distributor of mono- and poly-crystalline modules from Asia.
Germany Distributor of equipment
Spain Gahelios sells PV modules and delivers turnkey projects.
Germany Gehrlicher sells all components - modules, inverters, cables etc.
Germany PV wholesaler
Germany Solar Wholesaler
Sweden Using Q-cells products exclusively
Germany Wholesale of modules and mounting systems.
Germany PVXchange is an online market channel for PV-modules. It provides a business-to-business solution for both buy- and sell-side. Credit risk can be mitigated via an escrow service, which is offered as an add-on.
UK Solar Century is one of the leading solar companies in the UK. It is a wholesaler of PV components and systems. It also provides services for large projects. € 21.00
Turnkey Solutions Providers and Project Developers
Germany Belectric is one of the largest project developers / EPCs in the world. Belectric has developed a standardized 2MW solar power plant block (including modules, layout, choice of inverter and wiring). Larger power plants are implemented by building multiples of those 2MW block. This way the performance factor of the plant can be guaranteed at the outset.
Germany PV Full-Line provider
Spain Active in all technology segments:
Solar Tower PS10 in Sevialla (11MW)
Low & high concentration tracker CPV, Sevilla
Trough CST - Solana 280MW to be built in Phoenix, AZ
€ 1,392.00
Germany Construction of solar farms
Germany Colexon offers turnkey project implementation. Also broker roof- leases.  € 25.58
Italy Builds and installs utility scale solar plants
Spain Developer and operator of renewable assets: 5GW installed, mostly wind € 6,111.00
Germany Supply and plan systems for rural electrification around the world
Germany Project Developer, mostly focused on Wind
Germany Leases roof-space, operates systems, develops parks and supplies systems
Germany Energy consulting group (active also in transport) undertaking assessments, planning, engineering and implementation of renewable energy projects.
Germany Phoenix plans, builds and operates solar plants. € 264.00
Germany This is Q-Cells's project development division. Note that Q-Cells does not manufacture crystalline modules. Hence, Q-Cells Systems buys modules from other parties.
USA Recurrent energy develops and operates solar power plants.
Germany Project development, turnkey implementations and financing. € 44.00
UK Develop both PV and CST projects € 453.00
Norway Has subsidiary in the US
Germany SES21 offers all downstream activities from wholesale to project development.
Netherlands Inverters, bipv and turnkey projects
Spain Current projects in Spain and Eastern Europe
Germany Focus on commercial buildings € 8.00
UK Solar Technologies specialises in buildling integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).
Italy Solar Ventures are focused on Italy. Plans to add 50MW in 2009
USA One of the global renewable energy project developers with large customer base.

Downloads: Download comprehensive list of ingot & wafer producers including financial ratios, revenues and other information.


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