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The rise of China's solar EPCs

China’s rising stable of solar EPC players will totally overshadow their once-mighty European counterparts this year, reflecting the seismic demand shift taking place across the global PV market.

First Solar is on track to remain the world’s largest solar EPC player this year, riding its massive US pipeline to become the first firm to install more than 1GW of capacity in a single year, according to market researcher IHS.

The real story, however, is the Chinese, with China Power Investment Corporation (CPIC) likely to more than double its performance year-on-year to 700MW – snatching the number two spot from US-based SunEdison.

Three of the top five, and six of the top 10 global EPC companies this year are likely to be Chinese.

By comparison, none of the top five players this year will be European, IHS claims.

That compares to last year, when Germany’s Belectric and Juwi were both in the global top five, and Enerparc was number six, according to IMS Research (now owned by IHS).

Last month Gehrlicher Solar, a leading German EPC player, filed for bankruptcy.

State-owned CPIC, one of the largest power generators in China, will account for 10.4% of the 6.8GW non-residential Chinese PV market this year, IHS predicts.

Meanwhile, Yixing-based GD Solar has soared from the world’s ninth largest player last year to third largest this year.

Earlier this month, GD, which is also a significant PV manufacturer, signed a collaboration agreement with DuPont’s Chinese division.

Despite the powerful internationalisation process underway across the PV market, having a strong home market remains the key factor in determining this year’s top EPC list – and goes a long way towards explaining the lack of European players on the list.

US-based SunEdison, on track to take the number four slot this year, is the only top-five player to install a significant amount of capacity outside its home market – with contributions coming from India, South Africa and Chile.

First Solar, whose module business is described by IHS as “suffering”, took the first major step towards international expansion of its EPC arm this January when it acquired Chilean developer Solar Chile and its 1.5GW pipeline.

 

The top five global solar EPC companies in 2013 will be:

First Solar (1.1GW)           

China Power Investment Corporation (700MW)

GD Solar (500MW)

SunEdison  (465MW)

Astronergy  (300MW)

 

Last year’s top five:

First Solar

SunEdison

Belectric

China Power Investment Corporation

Juwi

Source: IHS

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