In the market for a solar photovoltaics system? See who tops the U.S. PV installation market

by Brianna Crandall — April 5, 2017 — Blattner Energy headed the list of U.S. installers of photovoltaics (PV) in 2016, followed closely by First Solar, the vertically integrated PV component supplier, and Swinerton Renewable Energy, the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm. Together, the top five EPCs captured nearly 50 percent of the total U.S. non-residential PV market, according to new research from IHS Markit, a worldwide provider of critical information, analytics and solutions.

Camron Barati, North America solar analyst for IHS Markit, stated:

Leading diversified EPCs such as Blattner Energy, Swinerton Renewable Energy and Mortenson Construction contributed to installing more than 15 gigawatts-dc (GWdc) of PV in the United States in 2016 — a record-breaking amount for the market. All told, commercial and utility-scale segments generated more than 80 percent of installation demand.

All told, megawatt-scale PV installations jumped by 125 percent from 2015 to 2016. Blattner Energy captured a significant share of demand in the Western United States in markets such as California and New Mexico, and was also highly active in emerging state markets such as Georgia. Aside from First Solar, the top five EPC companies were primarily characterized as diversified firms that do not have an exclusive focus on solar.

While most of the top EPC firms captured market share by winning large projects in 2016 — many larger than 100 MWdc in size — average project sizes in the U.S. development pipeline in 2017 are smaller, according to the IHS Markit Solar Deal Tracker. However, the trend of smaller projects is not likely to last, as larger projects scheduled for completion in 2018 and 2019 will begin to tip the balance towards mega-scale projects again.

Full details are in the upcoming Solar EPC and O&M report, to be found with the IHS North America Solar Intelligence Service.