Graph of the Day: Who's spending big on Big Solar? | RenewEconomy

Graph of the Day: Who’s spending big on Big Solar?

Engineering multi-nationals pile into $10bn utility solar market as installations pass 6GW for year, on expected path to more than 8GWp by end 2013.


First Solar, the US-based solar module manufacturer and systems integrator, remains comfortably in first position in the list of the world’s top solar power station builders, published today by More than half of the companies in the list are European solar specialist EPC contractors, many of which have successfully diversified internationally, as their home markets have been squeezed. Notable new- comers include multi-national general engineering contractors, Bechtel and Fluor.

Utility-scale[1] installations in 2013 now exceed 6 GWp, so the market is worth well over $10bn. This is already a record, and the total is expected to top 8 GWp when the full year’s commissioning data is available, compared to 5.6 GWp in 2012 and 3.6 GWp the year before.

The leading EPC contractors in terms of utility-scale solar experience are:

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“The entry of the big multi-nationals is a sign of this sector reaching maturity”, says Wiki-Solar founder Philip Wolfe; “a $10bn market with 50% year-on-year growth is enough to get anyone’s attention. The specialist solar contractors can’t rest on their laurels, and it’s good to see traditional leaders like Juwi and SunEdison actively pursuing new market opportunities to keep them high on the list.”

“The big multinationals have climbed the ranking tables fast, by focusing on the largest projects, like California Valley and Catalina (Bechtel), Mesquite (Zachry) and Arlington Valley (Fluor). They’re not all new entrants, though; Fluor built the first multi-megawatt solar power station for Arco back in 1984 in Carrisa Plain – coincidentally on part of the site where First Solar is now building the 550 MW Topaz solar farm.”

Wiki-Solar points out that Chinese companies are under-represented on the list.[2] This is because separate EPC contractors are seldom announced for projects in China, and the role is often undertaken by the project developers’ in-house construction team.

Philip Wolfe’s book “Solar Photovoltaic Projects in the mainstream power market” was published by Routledge in October.

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