GTM Research report predicts BOS system costs will exceed those of PV modules by next year

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A new research report by GTM Research, Solar PV Balance of System (BOS): Technologies and Markets, is reporting that in 2012 balance of system costs will surpass PV module costs on a cost per watt scale. The report, written by Manhal Aboudi, identified BOS costs in 2010 at US$1.43 per watt, or 44.8% of a standard, utility-scale crystalline silicon (cSi) solar project. As solar PV module prices continue to drop, GTM suspects that in 2012 the BOS cost for the same project will increase to 50.6%.

The report speculates that attention will be shift to include more economic gains for BOS components and services, which include mounting, structures, foundations and labor. GTM Research’s report details product improvements and economic positioning for the key BOS components and includes cost roadmaps, component market sizing and mounting structure on a global and country demand for the US, Europe, China and Japan.

“The PV market has new focus,” said Shayle Kann, managing director of GTM Research’s solar practice. “While the module will remain the most costly single part of a PV system for the foreseeable future, the large combined cost of BOS components will inevitably engender greater activity and innovation across the BOS value chain. We expect to see BOS consolidation, integrated business models and increased supplier competition in the coming years as more companies see the BOS as a major revenue opportunity in the PV market.”

The BOS report maps costs through 2013 and includes research data on global and country market shares for mounting structures, which happen to amount to the largest share of BOS component costs at US$0.23 per watt. In its report, GTM Research found that in a global setting, rooftop mounting structures accounted for 83% of 2010’s total market. However, that number is expected to decrease to 66% by 2015 as solar demands expand beyond Europe. In addition, North America and Asia’s utility markets are anticipated to demand ground-mounted fixed and tracking structures at a global share of 27% and 7%, respectively by 2015.

“Mounting structures are an access point for both BOS cost reductions and business opportunity,” commented Aboudi. “In the past we have seen highly localized mounting structure supply with fragmented share and product offerings. Larger companies such as SAPA, Gestamp Solar, Hilti and Cooper B-Line are now diversifying their product lines to better serve the global market and thereby reduce costs through scale as well as capture a larger piece of the mounting structure market.”

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