- The North American single-axis tracker market increased by over 100 percent, year over year, to reach $1.2 billion in 2015; the market is forecast to grow 20 percent to $1.4 billion in 2016.
- Single-axis tracker shipments exceeded fixed-tilt shipments by over 2 gigawatts (GW) breaking the 5 GW shipment mark for the first time in 2015.
- Ground-mount structural balance-of-system (SBoS) revenue in North America is projected to reach nearly $1.7 billion in 2016, led by single-axis tracker shipments in the United States.
- In the United States, single-axis trackers are expected to account for 80 percent of total ground-mount SBoS revenue in 2016.
- Fixed-tilt demand will be further supplanted by single-axis trackers in 2016: revenue for the product segment is expected to fall beneath $200 million.
The huge growth in single-axis tracker revenue in North America was primarily caused by the following three factors:
1. Numerous leading solar engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) companies and developers switched rapidly from using fixed-tilt structures to single-axis trackers, as they sought to improve energy yield of photovoltaic (PV) systems and lower the levelized cost of energy (LCOE), in spite of the higher upfront costs. As a result, major leading suppliers -- particularly in the United States -- expanded production of single-axis trackers, and numerous new suppliers released new single-axis trackers into the market. Using single-axis trackers has become the default for utility-scale projects developed in the higher irradiation states in the Western and Southern regions of the U.S.
2. Despite the extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) in the United States in late December 2015, the ground-mount utility-scale market in 2016 is forecast to have a record year for installations, due to the strong development activity that occurred leading up to the policy update.
3. Array Technologies, First Solar, SunPower, NEXTracker, and other leading suppliers from the nascent market in 2013 are still active and have continued to maintain high standards of quality and innovation, thereby instilling a sense of trust and bankability with leading partners and early adopters.
Pressure to lower prices for single-axis trackers will continue in 2016, as several new competitors launched products and entered the North American market within the last 12 months. However, the volume of orders will help market leaders maintain and grow revenues.
SunEdison’s bankruptcy has generated uncertainty surrounding the development of its vast pipeline of utility-scale projects in the United States, most of which will use single-axis trackers; however, the company and partners have indicated that near-term projects will continue to move forward.
First Solar recently announced it would begin to refocus on its PV module business, while simultaneously developing products that will fit a more universal selection of mounting solutions. Doing so could present long-term opportunity for other leading SBoS suppliers to capitalize on a larger volume of revenue, if the company decides to rely more on third-party mounting solutions, especially for single-axis trackers. This shift in strategy would have a tremendous effect on the entire North American market, because First Solar is the leading supplier of SBoS components in the region and the leading supplier of fixed-tilt mounting systems in the United States.