The world’s 10 largest photovoltaic (PV) Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) companies are set this year to install a combined 8 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity, equivalent to 20 percent of the world’s non-residential PV demand, according to a new report from IHS Technology (NYSE: IHS).
Keeping their top positions in the IHS PV integrator ranking for 2014 similar to last year, Arizona-based First Solar and TBEA SunOasis from China are expected to install more than 1 GW of additions this year. Both companies will focus on completing in-house developed projects in their home markets. Rounding out the top five are SunEdison, headquartered in Missouri, at No. 3; SunPower, based in Silicon Valley, in fourth place; and GD Solar from China, ranked fifth, as shown in the attached table.
“The largest EPC companies build their success on expanding domestic PV demand,” said Josefin Berg, senior analyst for solar demand at IHS. “The main exception is SunEdison, which is set to install half of an estimated 950 megawatts (MW) of PV capacity outside its home base in the United States.”
Of the 10 companies that IHS forecasts will take the top positions in this year’s ranking, six are based in China while four are in North America. The vast majority of projects result from ambitious in-house project developments by the companies, combined with their ability to attract major financiers and investors under favorable domestic incentive schemes.
Falling out of last year’s top 10, however, are European system integrators Abengoa and Belectric. Abengoa in 2013 completed its 246-MW U.S. flagship project named Mount Signal for 8 Minute Energy, and will be unable to match that size of installations in 2014. For Belectric, IHS expects the German integrator to take 16th place in 2014, as it shifts focus from Germany.
These findings are available in the latest edition of the “EPC and Integrator Market Share and Project Market Tracker” report, from the Power & Energy service of IHS Technology.
European EPCs find shelter in South Africa as domestic markets decline
IHS expects South Africa to grow fivefold in 2014, installing close to 600 MW of PV capacity via projects that were awarded in the first rounds of the national tender.
Within the country, ACS Cobra—a Spanish construction group—has expanded into PV system integration for SolarReserve. Meanwhile, Italian PV system integrator TerniEnergia gained an EPC contract with Enel Green Power, offering relief from a declining domestic market. For its part, German technology group Siemens Energy has stepped out of the PV market, but is completing contracted South Africa projects for Mainstream Renewable Power. Together ACS Cobra, TerniEnergia and Siemens Energy are installing 70 percent of total capacity for South Africa in 2014
“Opportunities in new markets such as South Africa are essential for EPC companies,” Berg noted. “This is because European PV demand will decline to 10 GW in 2014, so South Africa and new markets represent growth opportunities for the industry.”
Other European integrators that have found a temporary harbor in South Africa through major EPC contracts include Scatec Solar, juwi and Gestamp Solar.
Scattered opportunities among integrators in Germany and Italy
In contrast to new major PV markets, where projects larger than 50 MW contribute to the dominance of a few players, the developed but declining markets like Germany and Italy boast few champions among system integrators.
In these markets the pipelines of most integrators have dried up as a result of small system sizes combined with an oversupply of installers, Berg added.
One exception, however, is Enerparc, which installed an estimated 150 MW—half of the 300 MW capacity it put in place in 2012—through projects in the range of 5 to 10 MW, to maintain its leading position in Germany.
Meanwhile in Italy, the solar pipelines there have withered even more than in Germany, with existing projects being spread among the country’s many installers. IHS expects the five largest PV system integrators in Italy to install a combined 45 MW of capacity, amounting to a measly 6 percent of the total Italian market.