Solar trackers will make up one-third of all ground-mounted PV deployed the next five years, plus more insights from IHS Markit

Sapphire Solar Project

Sapphire Solar Project, a 2.47-MW install in Lake City, S.C., using Solar FlexRack’s TDP 2.0 Solar Tracker.

Following a record year of shipments for PV tracking systems globally, IHS Markit forecasts more than 150 GWdc of PV tracking systems will be deployed from 2019 to 2023, accounting for approximately one third of ground-mounted PV installations during the period according to its upcoming Global PV Tracker Market Report – 2019.

Key points

• IHS Markit predicts the Americas will remain the largest region for PV tracker demand, accounting for more than 40% of the global tracker market over the next five years.

• The United States will be the largest individual market for PV trackers globally during the forecast period.

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• Demand for PV trackers will experience the strongest growth across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), led by surging demand for utility-scale PV in markets such as Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabi, and Egypt.

• Though Asia will be the largest regional market for PV installations during the forecast period, demand for PV trackers will be weaker than other regions relative to the size and scale of the market, primarily due to stronger price competition with fixed-tilt systems and high competition for suitable land.

• Global leaders NEXTracker and Array Technologies are poised to continue capturing market share in emerging markets outside of their home markets in the Americas, though competition from other international players such as Soltec, Arctec Solar, PVH, and Convert Italia will serve as challengers to further expansion.

• The emergence of bifacial PV module adoption will positively impact global demand for PV trackers in the coming years as efficiency ratings continue rise and the price delta compared to mono facial modules narrows.

Americas region will remain key market for PV trackers but EMEA will be highest growth market throughout forecast

IHS Markit EMA tracker

IHS Markit predicts the Americas will remain the largest region for PV tracker demand, accounting for more than 40% of the global tracker market over the next five years. Key markets in this region will include the United States, projected to be the largest individual market for PV trackers globally during forecast period, along with Mexico due to a near-term surge in utility-scale PV deployments after recent capacity auction awards. In addition to being global market leaders, suppliers NEXTracker and Array Technologies have historically led in the Americas, collectively accounting for more than 50% of PV tracker shipments to the region in 2018.

While the Americas may be the largest regional market, demand for PV trackers will experience the strongest growth across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), led by surging demand for utility-scale PV in markets such as Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabi, and Egypt. The EMEA region has historically been dominated by Spanish suppliers such as PVH and Soltec, which collectively accounted for over 50% of PV tracker shipments to the region in 2018. Competition in the region is expected to increase significantly in the coming years due to the persistence of other European suppliers such as Convert Italia, Ideematec, and NCLAVE (acquired by Trina Solar) in addition to the entrance of US players such as NEXTracker and Array Technologies.

Though Asia will be the largest regional market for PV installations during the forecast period, demand for PV trackers will be weaker than other regions relative to the size and scale of the market, primarily due to stronger price competition with fixed-tilt systems and high competition for suitable land. Even so, Australia, China, and India are projected to be among the top ten largest markets for PV trackers from 2019 to 2023, collectively representing a market opportunity of more than 30 GW during the period. Global PV tracker market leader NEXTracker and leading Chinese supplier Arctech Solar have historically led the pack in Asia, collectively accounting for approximately 60% of PV tracker shipments to the region in 2018.

Bifacial PV modules will have a significant impact on demand for PV trackers in the coming years

IHS Markit EMA tracker by region

Greater efficiency gains and higher wattage for PV modules have been a primary driver of $/Wdc cost reductions for PV mounting and tracking products in recent years. However, surging demand for bifacial modules will help further incentivize the usage of solar trackers globally. Compared to standard mono facial modules, bifacial modules are generally expected to generate 5-20% more energy under optimal albedo conditions, with even greater gains reported for some case studies utilizing PV trackers. The cost delta between bifacial and mono facial modules has narrowed in recent years, and by 2020/2021 IHS Markit forecasts the price gap will become relatively insignificant compared to the efficiency gains.

The best markets for bifacial PV systems will be those with vast areas of highly reflective terrain, such as arid dessert regions, or those with specific market incentives, such as the exemption of bifacial modules from Section 201 tariffs in the United States. While China may be the largest market initially, the United States is rapidly becoming a key market for bifacial products, in addition to growing demand across Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa.

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