The Solar Panel Industry

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Before identifying the potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats Sharp faces in solar panel market. We must first examine the solar panel industry as a whole. The future growth of industry and the demand for solar panels is contingent on two economic drivers. These two factors include what types of energy will be used to fuel the growth of developing nations and how and where the energy is produced. The first economic driver that could potentially increase the growth of the industry lays in the fact that securing traditional energy as a means of fueling growth is becoming increasingly more expensive with an ever-growing demand. The growth in demand for traditional energy can be attributed to the development of countries such as China and India. The second economic driver that will dictate the growth of the industry is the fact that over the next few decades developing nations will shift away from centralized energy production to more local production. On the grounds that developing countries don’t have the current infrastructure such as electrical grids and decentralized energy production is much more cost effective than building such infrastructure (Bradford, 2006). In closing, the future growth of the solar industry hinges on developing nations using renewable energy to fuel their growth and leap frog the expense of constructing infrastructure to distribute traditional forms of energy with decentralized production. After identifying the two drivers that will dictate the future growth of the solar panel industry, we can examine the projections made about the future growth of the industry. The current market is over five billion dollars annually with new markets continuing to develop. Predictions have been made that the solar cell manufacturing industry will be a twenty- five billion plus industry by 2010 (CSU, 2007). While the solar panel industry has experienced a steady stream of growth for the last six years with growth estimated at a rate of thirty percent annually (Businessweek, 2006). In conclusion, the solar panel industry has experienced a consistent annual rate of growth that will only continue to increase with the growing trend towards renewable energy. Now that we have examined the economic drivers that will fuel the growth of the industry and the current growth the industry has experienced we can began to examine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats Sharp faces. The foundation of Sharps’ strength in the solar panel industry stems from their experience manufacturing solar powered fuel cells. Since 1963 Sharp Corporation has been mass producing solar powered fuel cells. This translates into roughly forty years of production experience. With Sharp’s solar panel division being the second largest producer within the industry. Another crucial strength that Sharp possesses is its effective utilization of its working capital generated from its sale of consumer electronics. Sharp uses this working capital to fund research and development and gain a foothold in developing markets as a means of achieving their long-term goal of becoming an industry leader. Sharp is currently allocating billions of dollars to the research and development of new cutting edge technology before industry rivals beat them to the punch (Hall,

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