Trackers are being deployed on an increasingly large portion of utility-scale solar projects in North America, according to the latest report by IHS Technology. As the market expands the market share of leading companies is rapidly shifting, and these top companies are increasingly dominating shipments.
During 2015, tracking systems with the capacity to host 5.5 GW of solar PV installations were shipped in North America, representing 135% growth over 2014. And while shipment of trackers typically comes several steps before such projects are completed, that this is larger than the amount of utility-scale solar installed in the United States during 2015 shows that trackers are increasingly dominating this market segment.
Along with this very rapid growth, the ranking of leading suppliers shuffled during the year. With a nearly three-fold growth in shipments, NEXTracker jumped three spots to become the continents top tracker maker.
Despite a 2.5-fold growth in shipments, Array Technologies has fallen to second place. First Solar remained in third place, a testament to the PV module maker and developers impressive presence in the North American utility-scale solar market. SunPower also fell two places, to become the fourth-largest.
Leading module producers like First Solar and SunPower remained in the top five rankings in 2015, thanks to their large ground-mount utility-scale pipeline, explained IHS Technology North America Solar Analyst Camron Barati in a press statement. SunPowers market share loss can be attributed to lumpiness of the companys utility-scale development business, which greatly affected its single-axis tracker shipments.
In another surprise, a dual-axis tracker maker has entered the top five, despite the market being dominated by single-axis trackers. IHS credits Sun Action Trackers supply of trackers to OCI Solar Powers projects in Texas for the position, and also notes that the company released a single-axis tracker during the year.
These five tracker makers accounted for 90% of shipments in North America. However, IHS also notes that SunLink, GameChange Solar, Solar Flexrack and Shoals all launched single-axis trackers last year, and that European tracker makers such as Exosun and Soltec are expanding their activities North America. Soltec already has a strong presence in the Latin American utility-scale PV market.
IHS says that it expects mergers and acquisitions in this space in 2016 and 2017, as engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors become more vertically integrated, and as balance-of-systems and component suppliers try to get in on the action.