The operations & maintenance sector for megawatt-scale solar PV is dominated by First Solar, SunEdison, and SunPower, accounting for 44% of the $300 million market.
These are the underlying findings from a new report published by IHS Technology, which analyzed the leading non-residential solar PV system integrators and megawatt-scale operations & maintenance (O&M) providers in North America.
Specifically, the O&M market for megawatt-scale solar PV in North America was estimated to be $300 million in 2015, and is expected to grow to $1 billion in 2020. The difference between the report’s two foci — solar PV system integrators and O&M providers — is a matter of time, with integrators focused on short-term arrangements following a project’s completion, while O&M service providers are interested in long-term servicing. A number of systems currently remain under their initial short-term contracts of one to five years, but that will change as the market matures and O&M services begin to replace initial integrator services.
Currently, the North American megawatt-scale O&M market is led by First Solar, which in 2015 captured over 25% of the market, followed by SunEdison with 11%, and SunPower with 7%.
In addition to the natural churn of projects outgrowing their initial service contracts and being picked up for long-term O&M services, Camron Barati, IHS analyst for North American Solar, points out that “solving system downtime and maintenance issues increases in importance” once systems are integrated into long-term ownership. “Less system downtime over the life of a project requires more attention to preventative and condition-based maintenance, which incurs higher costs and requires higher O&M budgets.”
Furthermore, Barati predicts that, “In addition to the rush of new projects planned for completion in 2016 and 2017, SunEdison’s bankruptcy will likely cause some of its assets to go up for auction to interested buyers.”
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