HISTORY

From diligent journalism to sophisticated market research

The idea behind Bernreuter Research was born in the heyday of the polysilicon shortage in 2006 when covering the flood of new factory projects went beyond the scope of a standard magazine article. Hence, company founder Johannes Bernreuter, a reputable photovoltaic journalist, has developed a series of market research tools to provide in-depth polysilicon industry reports.

It was a hot summer day in 2006. Johannes Bernreuter, a German journalist specialized in photovoltaics and known for his diligent research, was sweating over his second global polysilicon market survey for Sun & Wind Energy magazine. At that time, new polysilicon projects began to spring up like mushrooms across the world, above all in China (polysilicon market analysis).

An idea born in the early days of the polysilicon upswing

Faced with this flood of activities, the experienced journalist felt he had to limit his research. If he didn’t, it would go beyond the scope of a standard magazine article.

But to stop digging deeper is something Bernreuter doesn’t like at all. At some point, an idea flashed up in his brain: How about covering the polysilicon industry in a fully fleshed out market research report? That was the moment when the concept behind Bernreuter Research was born.

The idea of establishing a market research firm fascinated Bernreuter. Finally, he would be able to fully bring in what he was best at: meticulous research. However, he also had some doubts: Would he be able to compete against large market research companies with dozens of analysts?

Successful debut in a market niche

Johannes Bernreuter, founder of Bernreuter Research, and Charlie Gay (right), solar industry veteran
In 2006 solar industry veteran Charlie Gay (right) encouraged Johannes Bernreuter to focus on polysilicon market research – Image: Wilhelm Breuer

Bernreuter decided it was worth a trial. In his endeavor, he was encouraged by Charlie Gay, a solar industry veteran with decades of experience. Bernreuter focused his approach on a market niche with two unique selling propositions:

comprehensive coverage of all polysilicon manufacturers and aspirants;

in-depth analysis of incumbent and new production processes.

While gradually reducing his journalistic duties, Bernreuter prepared the website www.bernreuter.com. With its launch in June 2008, Bernreuter Research came into life.

After that, a research marathon on 150 polysilicon companies and projects began, supported by Frank Haugwitz, a Beijing-based solar energy consultant. In April 2010, the fruit of Bernreuter’s extensive work was complete: the 174-page Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production.

Spurred by the very positive response, Bernreuter Research started to refine its research methodology.

A series of market research innovations

  • The 2012 follow-up edition demonstrated that most analysts’ predictions of global PV installation volume remained on average around 30% below the actual result. As a consequence, Bernreuter Research has developed its own demand-forecast approach. Today it tracks PV installations in more than 100 countries, accounting for the fact that the PV industry consumes more than 90% of polysilicon produced worldwide.
  • In the 2014 edition, Bernreuter Research introduced a modified interpretation of the industry cost curve, a price forecast tool popularized by the consulting company McKinsey in the 1980s. By adapting this tool to the specific conditions in the polysilicon industry, Bernreuter has achieved a remarkable track record of price forecasts.
  • Issued in late 2016, the Polysilicon Market Outlook 2020 contained – for the first time – a sophisticated scenario of how the specific silicon consumption in grams per watt of solar cell power will develop, based on many input variables. The specific consumption significantly influences total polysilicon demand.

High quality in a changing market environment

Owing to ample supply, sinking prices and growing market share of Chinese manufacturers, however, international interest in the polysilicon market has waned in recent years.

This has only motivated Bernreuter Research to be even more ambitious in convincing customers with the high precision of its market reports. Bernreuter’s new website, which was relaunched in 2020 to offer more comprehensive and detailed information on the polysilicon market, is an expression of this philosophy.

2006

First page of global polysilicon market survey by Johannes Bernreuter in Sun & Wind Energy magazine 2/2006

Second global polysilicon market survey for Sun & Wind Energy magazine

The concept behind Bernreuter Research is born

2008

Homepage of Bernreuter Research in 2008

Launch of www.bernreuter.com

Formation of Bernreuter Research

2010

The Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production (Basic Edition, 2010) from Bernreuter Research

Premier edition of the
Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production

Covers 150 polysilicon companies and projects and analyzes 10 different polysilicon production technologies

2012

The 2012 Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production from Bernreuter Research

2012 edition of the
Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production

Demonstrates that most analysts’ predictions of global PV installations are far below the actual result

2014

The 2014 Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production from Bernreuter Research

2014 edition of the
Who’s Who of Solar Silicon Production

Introduces a nuanced interpretation of the industry cost curve as a price forecast tool

2016

The Polysilicon Market Outlook 2020 from Bernreuter Research

First edition of the
Polysilicon Market Outlook

Establishes a sophisticated scenario of how the specific silicon consumption will develop

2020

Homepage of Bernreuter Research in 2020

Relaunch of www.bernreuter.com

New concept of a comprehensive and detailed polysilicon information platform