Solar cell production is a highly technical process and this has severely limited the number of companies involved in the industry. Virtually all global solar cell production in 2003 was carried out by just ten companies. The largest, by far, of these was the Japanese company Sharp.
Regionally, Japan has come to dominate production, followed by Europe, the USA and the rest of the world. Production figures for 2003 are broken down regionally in Table 13.1. Total global production was 744 MW. That was 32% higher than in 2002. This rate of growth in production has been typical over the past decade.
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The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.