Solar PV panel manufacturers audited Solar panel brand Background Inspection of components & electrical interconnection of solar cells Assembly of components through sealing by lamination Final assembly of module with frame and connector box Post-production quality checks Final audit rating Aleo Solar German manufacturer established in 2001. ATERSA Spanish company which currently only provides panels for motorhomes and caravans in the UK. Bisol Panels made in the EU, and its ‘spectrum’ range has panels in different colours. Canadian Solar One of the world’s largest solar companies. Incorporated in Canada, with bulk of manufacturing capability based in China. Finale 24 Small Belgium company. Not currently available in the UK, but might be in the future.
Hanwha Q Cells One of the world’s largest solar PV manufacturers, with headquarters in South Korea and Germany. JA Solar Chinese company founded in 2005 – one of the biggest in the world. Kyocera Large Japanese manufacturer with headquarters in the USA. LDK Solar Chinese company established in 2005. Open Renewables Small Portuguese company, operating since 1994. Sharp Electronics Europe The brand most Which? members own (with Sanyo/Panasonic). Has more than 50 years’ experience of solar panel development. Solar watt Germany PV manufacturer. Offers 30-year product and performance warranty on its glass-glass modules. Solarworld German manufacturer which also claims to have a sustainable and eco-friendly production process. Suntech Power Chinese manufacturer. By 2014, it had shipped more than 25m solar modules worldwide. Table notes: The final audit rating is limited by the lowest sub-rating.
*** means there were no unsatisfactory findings during the audit;
** means only minor unsatisfactory finding(s) were found. Both are positive ratings for the audit and indicate a good-quality manufacturing process. The following brands could not be audited this time: Panasonic (Sanyo), Yingli, REC Solar, Trinasolar, SunPower, LG, ET Solar, SunEdison, Kioto, Hanergy (Ikea). This was because they either refused our request or didn’t respond to it, or the time of our inspection was not convenient (because a manufacturer was moving factories, for example). Solar panel factory audit We chose to audit solar PV panel factories, rather than carry out a short-term performance test of the panels.