After Five-Year Absence, Sharp Solar Returns as Number One PV Module Supplier in Q1’14, According to NPD Solarbuzz

Sharp’s resurgence due to its shift in outsourcing strategy and growth in the Japanese solar PV market

Santa Clara, California, May 14, 2014— Sharp Solar returned to the top of the solar photovoltaic (PV) module shipment rankings during Q1’14, after a five year absence, according to findings in the latest NPD Solarbuzz Module Tracker Quarterly report.

Sharp was the solar PV industry market leader for 45 years between 1963 and 2008, before manufacturing capacity was scaled up in China. Between 2009 and 2014, First Solar and Chinese-based solar PV suppliers dominated the top rankings within the industry. “The first quarter this year was the first time a non-Chinese module supplier has taken the leading position in the solar PV industry since the fourth quarter of 2009,” according to Ray Lian, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “Sharp Solar benefited from seasonally strong end-market demand in Japan, and the ability to quickly increase shipment volumes through a flexible strategy of using outsourced supply from China and Taiwan.”

Figure: Sharp’s Solar Shipment Volume and Rank

Source: NPD Solarbuzz Module Tracker Quarterly

During its previous reign as the industry’s leading PV module supplier, Sharp pursued a vertically integrated strategy, manufacturing its own solar cells and modules. However, during the past few years, Sharp has shifted its emphasis to selling modules manufactured by outsourced partners located mainly in China and Taiwan.

“Sharp’s success during in the first quarter of this year confirms the value of brand-recognition within the PV industry,” Lian said. “It also shows the viability of the so-called ‘fab-lite’ model, in which either internal manufacturing capacity or outsourced supply can be managed effectively to address short-term opportunities. The fab-lite model is now used by several of the leading vertically-integrated companies in the PV industry.”

For more information about NPD Solarbuzz Module Tracker Quarterly, contact us at one of our seven global locations, email us at, or call Charles Camaroto at 1.516.625.2452 for more information.

About NPD Solarbuzz
NPD Solarbuzz, part of The NPD Group, offers North America PV Markets Quarterly, Marketbuzz, Solarbuzz Quarterly, and other upstream and downstream photovoltaic (PV) market quarterly reports, providing the solar energy and PV industries with global historical and forecast data for the PV supply chain. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @Solarbuzz.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions. By combining unique data assets with unmatched industry expertise, we help our clients track their markets, understand consumers, and drive profitable growth. Sectors covered include automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, entertainment, fashion, food/foodservice, home, luxury, mobile, office supplies, sports, technology, toys, and video games. For more information, visit and Follow us on Twitter at @npdtech and @npdgroup.

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