SunPower, First Solar and SunEdison cornered 44% of North American O&M market in 2015: IHS

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Three of the largest vertically integrated solar companies in the U.S. accounted for 44% of the North American operations and maintenance (O&M) market last year, reveals data published today by IHS.

In its Solar EPC and O&M Providers Report – North America – 2016, IHS North America Solar Intelligence Service found that First Solar, SunEdison and SunPower had 25%, 11% and 7% of the $300 million market for O&M systems larger than 1 MW, respectively.

SunEdison’s untimely bankruptcy is likely to put-paid to that status quo, however, as it seeks to offload assets across the continent to fellow EPCs and O&M providers.

Notably, IHS said, the three leading O&M companies were all vertically integrated throughout the solar supply chain, dealing in development, integration, manufacturing and supply, which suggests a certain bankability advantage in the market currently.

Another point of note was the observation that, as utility-scale PV systems are becoming larger, higher standards are being regulated by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) that operators must comply with.

These new NERC regulations will cover around 7 GW of new solar PV capacity currently under development across North America, IHS forecasts. These systems cover plants that connect more than 75 MW of solar PV at a single interconnection point.

According to IHS, only a handful of O&M providers have obtained NERC certification, which will result in "fewer competitors for O&M contracts on these type of projects". However, a growing number of service providers will enter this space over the next few years, added IHS, as the market grows to $1 billion a year by 2020.

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