USA: First Solar Inc. became the largest engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor in the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry in 2012, according to new rankings by IMS Research, now part of IHS Inc.
First Solar installed over 500 MW of PV projects in 2012, a 50 percent increase over 2011. IHS also reports that SunEdison LLC and SunPower have also made the top 15 EPCs, with 390 MW and 190 MW installed, respectively.
“Because of the dramatic shift in demand away from Europe, non-European companies are now completing vast numbers of PV projects around the world,” states Ash Sharma, IHS senior director of Solar Research.
“Last year, just four of the top 10 EPCs and system integrators were based in Europe due to the large project business of US, Chinese and Indian companies. Back in 2010, seven of the top 10 EPCs were European.”
Asian EPCs rise with Asian markets
IHS notes that Asian EPCs also featured prominently in the 2012 rankings, specifying Chinese companies linked to state-owned utilities and industrial companies. In 2012, four of the ten largest EPCs were Chinese companies, and IHS expects these companies to continue to grow with the nation's domestic PV market.
Eleven of the 30 largest EPCs are still European, and installed a total of 2 GW of capacity. IHS notes that these companies are becoming increasingly active in Asia and Latin America.
Larsen & Toubro Ltd. (Mumbai, India) also appeared in the top 10 ranking, the first time an Indian EPC has done so. Larsen & Toubro completed almost 200 MW of PV projects in 2012, nearly double the amount completed in the prior year.
However, IHS notes that the EPC landscape remains “incredibly fragmented”, noting that First Solar's EPC business represents only 2 percent of the total market and that the top 30 EPCs account for only 24 percent of the global PV project business.