Wiki-Solar: Constructors have added more than 20GW of new utility-scale solar since January 2023

A solar project under construction.
The world’s top 34 EPC contractors are now responsible for a combined portfolio of more than 100GWac. Image: Lightsource BP

Wiki-Solar has published its latest figures covering engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and operations and maintenance (O&M) capacity in the global solar sector, with the world’s top 34 EPC contractors now responsible for a combined portfolio of more than 100GWac.

The figures suggest that the world’s leading utility-scale constructors have added more than 20GWac of new capacity since the beginning of 2023, as the world looks to install more solar capacity to meet its climate change targets. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of the leading EPC and O&M firms are based in China, the US, India, Spain and Germany, countries with mature solar sectors. Chinese and Indian contractors have taken four of the top six rankings for new capacity additions.

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On a company-by-company basis, US-based SOLV Energy dominates both EPC and O&M work, ranking number one in terms of operating capacity for both types of projects. The company has 11.6GWac of capacity in both its EPC and O&M portfolios as of the first quarter of this year, and was the top-ranked company in both metrics in January 2023, demonstrating its sustained significance in the sector.

In the EPC space, German firms Enerparc and Belectric are among the fastest-growing companies, adding four and three new projects, respectively, since the start of January 2023. These companies shot up the Wiki-Solar rankings, from 39th and 33rd in January 2023 to 14th and 11th, respectively, with 6GWac of capacity in their EPC portfolios.

In the O&M sector, meanwhile, Baywa and Eiffage made some of their greatest additions to their portfolios, bringing online eight and ten plants, respectively, since the start of 2023. These additions saw these companies go from 18th and 16th, respectively, in 2023, to sixth and fourth in the first quarter of 2024.

Chart showing companies within the top 20 for both EPC and O&M Capacity. Credit: PV Tech

All five of these companies rank within the top 20 for both EPC and O&M capacity, as shown in the chart above, demonstrating that expertise in one sector can often translate to expertise in the other. However, this is not the case for all of the companies in the EPC and O&M spaces; US firm McCarthy Building, and Indian companies Sterling & Wilson and ACME Solar, rank second, fourth and sixth in total EPC capacity, respectively, but are not in the top 20 O&M contractors.

Similarly, French company Equans boasts 3.2GW of O&M capacity across 221 plants, the fifth-most O&M capacity of any single company, but is not among the top 34 EPC contractors in the world by EPC capacity. This is not to say that Equans’ growth has stagnated – since the start of 2023 it has added 20 new plants to its O&M portfolio, with a combined capacity of 0.4GW – but that, unlike other companies in the space, is not targeting both EPC and O&M work.

Perhaps the most striking fall in rankings belongs to the China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC). Despite adding a new project with a capacity of 2GWac to its EPC portfolio since the start of 2023, the company has fallen from second to 16th in Wiki-Solar’s rankings, a reflection not necessarily of its own struggles, but the rapid pace of installations from rivals in the global solar sector.

Indeed, CMEC is the highest-ranked Chinese company in terms of EPC capacity, demonstrating the rapid growth in the solar sectors of the US, France and India, which have come to dominate both the EPC and O&M rankings.

“The prominence of French contractors is impressive,” said Wiki-Solar founder Philip Wolfe, “given that their home country is not in the top ten utility-scale solar markets.”

Wolfe wrote a piece on the utility-scale sector for PV Tech earlier this year, in which he argued that utility-scale solar capacity is set to triple by 2030, with an “extensive” pipeline of new projects set to come online by the end of the decade.

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