IHS: Commercial PV to drive BOS market up to US$19 billion by 2019

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The worldwide market for balance of systems (BOS) for solar power could be worth US$21 billion by 2019, with the greatest activity expected to be seen in the commercial sector, according to a new report from analysis firm IHS.

The IHS report, 'PV Balance of System Equipment – 2015' published toward the end of last month, highlights that the sector as a whole could grow by 5% annually.

Meanwhile as much as 11.5GW of non-PV-module-related hardware costs, such as mounting systems and inverters, could be installed in the commercial sector alone, the report says. This is likely to be the case in part as many maturing markets move away from their subsidy-driven utility-scale sector buildouts.

A significant portion of the market’s total value will be found in mounting systems and ground-mount trackers – in other words structural BOS – IHS found. Comprising 45% of the total value of the market, this area could be worth US$9.5 billion in three years’ time. While ground-mount trackers and other ground-mount mounting equipment enjoy significant attention, especially in Asia, it is in the commercial and residential mounting system segments that the majority of activity will be seen, IHS senior analyst Cormac Gilligan said.

However Gilligan pointed out that overall, while revenues for electrical BOS will reach a comparatively much lower total of around US$3 billion by 2019, products in the electrical BOS (EBoS) sector such as inverters, system monitoring and DC cabling will see more rapid growth than its structural counterpart.  

Gilligan explained that this was due to the increasing demands placed on the electrical hardware side of PV system design, construction and maintenance.

“The EBoS market is set to grow rapidly, primarily because these components will handle higher voltages and assist in arc-fault detection, isolation and other health and safety requirements,” he said.

Regionally, as much as 44% of the total figure could come from commercial PV installations in key Asian markets including China, India and Japan, by far the largest share of the three global markets studied by the IHS team. In second place will be the 34% share enjoyed by the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions, while there is a further drop of 13% down to the Americas in third place, with 21%.

Global interest in Japan’s market appeared to be in evidence at last week’s PV Expo in Tokyo, where international inverter makers SMA from Europe, China’s Sungrow and mounting systems specialists, Renusol and Zep Solar, were among the companies exhibiting either through their own stands or on those of local distribution partners.

There appears to be an acceptance that BOS will become an ever more important factor in overall system costs as many of the world’s biggest PV markets move away from subsidies. Not only that, but scope for product differentiation seems to be greater within the BOS sector at present, relative to PV module supplies. I.H.S’ latest report covers all non-PV module related hardware costs on the Direct Current (DC) side of PV plants. Alternating Current (AC) side components such as AC combiner boxes and cabling are not included in the scope of the report.

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