US giant First Solar became the world’s largest engineering, procurement and construction contractor (EPC) last year, according to a report from IHS Research.

The study also revealed a shift in the global EPC rankings, with US and Asian companies supplanting their previously dominant European counterparts at the top of the table.

First Solar jumped to first place in the IHS 2012 rankings, having been at third place in 2011. The company completed over 500MW of new capacity last year, an increase of 50% in 2011.

Fellow US EPC SunEdison came second on the 2012 list, up from fourth place in 2011.

Meanwhile Asian companies fared well, with four Chinese companies making the top ten. Indian company Larsen & Tourbo also performed strongly, rising from 15th place in the 2011 rankings to 11th last year with around 200MW of projects developed.

But, reflecting the growth of solar in Asia and the Americas, the dominance of European EPCs is slipping. In 2010 seven of the top 10 EPCs were from Europe; last year this figure had fallen to four.

Ash Sharma, senior director of solar research at IHS, said: “Because of the dramatic shift in demand away from Europe, non-European companies are now completing vast numbers of PV projects around the world.

“Last year, just four of the top 10 EPCs and system integrators were based in Europe due to the large project business of US, Chinese and Indian companies. Back in 2010, seven of the top 10 EPCs were European.”

But European EPCs are still performed strongly overall, with 11 of the top 30 companies coming from the continent.

IHS said that although demand in Europe was dwindling, European companies are finding alternative business in emerging Latin American and Asian markets.

Overall the IHS research revealed that the world’s top 30 EPCs accounted for only 24% of the global projects business, about the same as in 2011.

“Despite all of the dramatic change in the EPC landscape in 2012, one thing remains constant: the industry remains incredibly fragmented,” said Sharma.