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Visualizing China’s Dominance in the Solar Panel Supply Chain

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visualization of global solar pv panel manufacturing capacity by country/region.

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China’s Dominance in the Solar Panel Supply Chain

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Many governments are investing in renewable energy sources like solar power, but who controls the manufacturing of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels?

As it turns out, China owns the vast majority of the world’s solar panel supply chain, controlling at least 75% of every single key stage of solar photovoltaic panel manufacturing and processing.

This visualization shows the shares held by different countries and regions of the key stages of solar panel manufacturing, using data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Solar Panel Manufacturing, by Country and Stage

From polysilicon production to soldering finished solar cells and modules onto panels, China has the largest share in every stage of solar panel manufacturing.

Even back in 2010, the country made the majority of the world’s solar panels, but over the past 12 years, its average share of the solar panel supply chain has gone from 55% to 84%.

China also continues to lead in terms of investment, making up almost two-thirds of global large-scale solar investment. In the first half of 2022, the country invested $41 billion, a 173% increase from the year before.

Country/RegionSolar Panel DemandAverage Share of Solar Panel Manufacturing Capacity
China36.4%84.0%
Europe16.8%2.9%
North America17.6%2.8%
Asia-Pacific13.2%9.1%
India6.9%1.3%
Rest of the World9.1%0.8%

Source: IEA
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

After China, the next leading nation in solar panel manufacturing is India, which makes up almost 3% of solar module manufacturing and 1% of cell manufacturing. To help meet the country’s goal of 280 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar power capacity by 2030 (currently 57.9 GW), in 2022 the Indian government allocated an additional $2.6 billion to its production-linked incentive scheme that supports domestic solar PV panel manufacturing.

Alongside China and India, the Asia-Pacific region also makes up significant amounts of solar panel manufacturing, especially modules and cells at 15.4% and 12.4% respectively.

While Europe and North America make up more than one-third of the global demand for solar panels, both regions make up an average of just under 3% each across all stages of actually manufacturing solar panels.

Too Little Too Late to Diversify?

China’s dominance of solar photovoltaic panel manufacturing is not the only stranglehold the country has on renewable energy infrastructure and materials.

When it comes to wind, in 2021 China built more offshore wind turbines than all other countries combined over the past five years, and the country is also the leading producer and processor of the rare earth minerals essential for the magnets that power turbine generators.

In its full report on solar panel manufacturing, the IEA emphasized the importance of distributing global solar panel manufacturing capacity. Recent unexpected manufacturing halts in China have resulted in the price of polysilicon rising to 10-year highs, revealing the world’s dependence on China for the supply of key materials.

As the world builds out its solar and wind energy capacity, will it manage to avoid repeating Europe’s mistakes of energy import overdependence when it comes to the materials and manufacturing of renewable energy infrastructure?

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Visualized: An Investor’s Carbon Footprint, by Sector

Which sectors are the largest contributors to emissions? From energy to tech, this graphic shows carbon emissions by sector in 2023.

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Visualized: An Investor’s Carbon Footprint, by Sector

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The following content is sponsored by MSCI
Visualized: An Investor’s Carbon Footprint, by Sector

Visualized: An Investor’s Carbon Footprint, by Sector

In the quest for a sustainable future, investors can play a crucial role in shaping our planet’s destiny.

Understanding the carbon emissions in different sectors is a key way to make environmentally and financially conscious decisions and help make a positive impact on the planet.

This infographic, sponsored by MSCI, looks at carbon emissions by sector.

Types of Carbon Emissions

Unsurprisingly, industries heavily reliant on fossil fuels and energy-intensive processes, like energy, materials, and industrials, have significant carbon footprints. In contrast, service-based and technology industries are traditionally less carbon-intensive.

To get an accurate picture of a sector/industry’s carbon footprint, it’s important to look up and down their value chain. Here is how policymakers categorize carbon emissions:

  1. Scope 1: Generated directly by the organization and within its control e.g., on-site fuel combustion and internal industrial processes.
  2. Scope 2: Indirect emissions from energy use, such as purchased electricity, heat, or cooling.
  3. Scope 3: Indirect emissions, but different from Scope 2 emissions. These are emissions that the company does not directly control such as the emissions produced from a supplier or emissions generated from the use of its sold product.

Only looking at all three scopes of emissions can we arrive at a complete picture of a sector’s carbon footprint.

Volume of Carbon Emissions, by Sector

The following table breaks down the greenhouse gas emissions for each sector by scope. A sector’s carbon footprint is expressed in metric tons of CO2 equivalent for every $1 million in financing.

In other words, here’s how much of a climate impact a one million dollar investment has in each of the following sectors.

The total figure represents the weighted average carbon emissions of each sector’s constituents as of August 10, 2023:

SectorScope 1
Scope 2
Scope 3
Total
Energy263.327.22827.53118.0
Materials298.482.81349.21730.4
Utilities461.416.0405.5883.0
Industrials32.68.3425.1466.0
Consumer
discretionary
5.09.0372.2386.2
Consumer staples16.512.4276.4305.3
Information
technology
2.05.879.387.1
Health care1.82.470.975.1
Financials4.01.158.363.4
Real estate1.45.946.854.0
Communication
services
0.64.740.545.8

Represented by tCO₂e/USD million EVIC. EVIC is the enterprise value including cash.

Understanding carbon footprint profiles can help investors evaluate the risks faced by carbon-intensive industries, such as future regulations and reputational challenges.

MSCI’s climate metrics empower investors to make responsible investments and drive meaningful change.

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Download MSCI’s Climate Metrics Report.

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