US Integrators Challenge German Dominance

Thirteen of the top 30 system integrators last year were German and, although Germany’s dominance in newly added PV capacity is set to fall in coming years, it appears clear that German system integrators will still be highly prominent. They have become increasingly active abroad while maintaining a stranglehold on their domestic market. German firms made up 19 of the top 20 integrators in their domestic market last year and also gained a strong foothold in other strong European solar markets such as France, Italy and the Czech Republic.

Belectric (Formerly Beck Energy) developed more than 300 MW of PV systems in 2010, propelling it to the top of IMS Research’s rankings for PV system integrators. Belectric was narrowly ahead of Juwi, the second-largest developer, and five places ahead of 2009’s leader, Q-Cells International, which saw close to zero MW-growth in systems developed.

Yet, despite its three-fold increase in PV systems developed and its No.1 position in 2010, Belectric still only managed to capture a 2.4% share of the non-residential PV market, estimated at 13.2 GW, highlighting the highly fragmented nature of the PV Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) industry. IMS Research’s quarterly survey of system integrators and EPCs revealed that the market is even more fragmented than the PV component market, with the top 30 suppliers holding only a 22.1% share of the market, down 2% from the previous year.

US PV system integrators have risen in the rankings in 2010, IMS Research analysis reveals. For the first time, three large-scale system providers from the US appeared among the 10 largest integrators. The number of integrators in the US is also surging. Of the 400 most active identified, nearly 30% are headquartered there, despite the country accounting for less than 10% of 2010 global installations.

In Italy, US-based system integrators are also rapidly gaining share. Two of these US players, SunPower and SunEdison, were the two largest integrators in what was the world’s second-largest market in 2010. Surprisingly, only three Italian firms appear in the top 10 for Italy in 2010, as many large US, German and Spanish suppliers rushed into this exploding market.

In the US, the non-residential market was one of the least fragmented last year, with the top 20 integrators holding a 66% share, albeit slightly down on the year before. IMS Research expects this market to become flooded by EPCs, due to massive growth predicted in 2011 and 2012, and has already identified close to 150 active US-based system integrators, plus many more European and Asian firms entering this promising market.

While the commercial PV integration market is very diverse, the utility-scale market (>5 MW) is much more consolidated due to the level of expertise required for installations of this size and the relatively fewer plants of this size already in place or planned. Germany-based Juwi moved to the top of IMS Research’s rankings in 2010, with a 12.1% share of global utility-scale systems. Indeed, 2010 saw high demand for utility-scale systems, which grew the fastest of all system types, by over 150% from 2009. Sunpower, First Solar and SunEdison, all US providers, were able to capitalise on this surging demand.

Certainly 2010 was an incredible year for utility-scale PV and a record capacity from such systems was installed worldwide. Several very large plants were completed, such as First Solar’s Sarnia project in Canada and SunEdison’s Rovigo plant in Italy. These plants have set new standards for the size of PV systems. They have also enabled these suppliers to become some of the largest integrators in the world.

Previous articleThe Last Word: Financing Renewables
Next articleWind Farm Could Gain from Wider Turbine Spacing

No posts to display