Solar PV O and M Market to be 400 GW by 2020

According to a new report from GTM Research and SoliChamba Consulting, Megawatt-Scale PV O&M and Asset Management 2015-2020: Services, Markets and Competitors, the global market for utility-scale PV operations and maintenance will reach 488 gigawatts by 2020, almost triple the estimated market of 133 gigawatts by the end of 2015.

More of this market has come about in the last two years alone. The report identifies the distinct characteristics of markets where new installations remain the primary O&M opportunity, as in the U.S. — versus countries where most of the addressable O&M market consists of older plants, as in Germany and Spain.

The report notes a major trend of the decoupling of operations and maintenance, with half of analyzed O&M providers reporting different megawatt counts under operations compared to megawatts under maintenance.

“With a single vendor providing both asset management and O&M, there is no duplication of supervision and reporting functions, so arguably this results in lower staffing costs for managing the same asset portfolio,” says the report. “But there are real risks that a ‘one-stop shop’ provider may not defend the interests of the owner as fiercely as would an independent asset manager.”

As the market grows, new competition emerges. GTM Research and SoliChamba Consulting segment the market into nine distinct provider types: project developers and EPCs, utilities and IPPs, investors, vertically integrated firms, inverter companies, independent service providers, and affiliated service providers. Each category has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Source – Greentech Media

8 thoughts on “Solar PV O and M Market to be 400 GW by 2020

    1. Narasimhan Santhanam Post author

      Dear S

      Thanks for your interesting question

      Crystal gazing is a rather interesting exercise, and I don’t mind doing that at all, but don’t hold me to it!!

      You might be surprised I call it crystal gazing as one might assume that predicting solar growth just a few years down the line should be a rather easy scientific exercise.

      Well, sure, many highly reputed media (GTM, Lux, IHS) etc., do provide such scientific predictions, but the problem with scientific methods in this case is that it relies a lot on historical data, and for solar, which is a disruptive industry which can see significant discontinuities, history might simply not be an indicator enough for future growth.

      While one might argue that the cost reduction in solar has plateaued and hence we can expect more realistic growths, that reasoning has been belied by the continuous steep fall in solar power tariffs worldwide.

      Some of these could be due to external interventions – ITC, subsidies, call them what you may – but the fact is, the solar sector is right now in the intersection of a number of unpredictable drivers – decreasing costs, increasing grid prices, increasing emphasis from governments to scale solar, its high socio economic implications for the underprivileged and hence, advances in technology (better trackers, smarter inverters, higher efficiency panels, much better monitoring and control) that it is very difficult to pin down how each of these variables will look like in 2020.

      But, all said, I will hazard a guess:

      End of 2015, the world has about 230 GW of solar pv installed worldwide, about 55 GW of this was installed in 2015, vs about 40 GW the year before.

      Leaving aside others’ predictions, here are mine:

      In 2016, the world will see 75-80 GW of installations
      Between 2017-2020 (both years included), the world will see a total of 450 GW, at an average of over 100 GW a year.

      So, add all these, and what do you get:
      By 2020, you are looking at solar installed capacity of about 750 GW, and more important, over 500 GW added between start of 2016 and end of 2020.

      Mind you, this is a much higher prediction that most other “scientific” studies which are estimating about 600 GW, but even my higher estimate might make me end up with egg on my face – don’t be surprised if it inches towards a TW!

      Because, you see, that is the power of a disruptive idea

      Catch me by the collar, if you can, in 2020 🙂

  1. Matthew george

    If solar power plants need little maintenance, why should we bother about solar O&M market sizes??

    Even if there is some o&m required, it is likely to be very small isnt it?

    What will such o&m comprise anyways?

    1. Narasimhan Santhanam Post author


      Thanks for the input

      The O&M is indeed small, to a large extent ensuring that the panels are cleaned and the electricals, cables and other connections are OK, and also regularly checking that the inverter is working fine.

      In some cases, minor replacements to some panels might be required too.

      Now, all these are minor but mind you, a solar farm comprises thousands of panels (at 300 W a panel a 1 MW solar farm alone would have over 3000 panels).

      Imagine you need to wash 3000 windows – a simple activity indeed, but a time consuming one

      Overall, to give you an indication, EPCs charge about Rs 5 lacs/MW/year for farms without trackers and around 7 lacs/MW for farms with trackers.

      While on trackers, there will be a bit more O&M for trackers – there are actuators and motors involved in these, but still these are NOT moving superfast for a solar tracker, so there will only be a marginal increase in maintenance.

  2. Maj SK Singh

    At even $10,000/MW/year for solar o&m, so this will be a $4 billion annual o##ortunity by 2020. A neat market, looks like

    1. Narasimhan Santhanam Post author

      I agree with you Mr Singh

      Not a humungous opportunity, but a neat and growing niche, no doubt.

    1. Narasimhan Santhanam Post author


      Good question

      It is actually a mix of both – most EPCs also take up O&M services for the solar power that they help instal in the first place, and at the same time, there are pureplay O&M service providers as well.

      In terms of proportion, I must admit that right now there are only a few such pureplay O&M service Providers, so most times the O&M contract for the power plant also goes to the EPC

      Hopefully, there will be more pureplay O&M companies in future

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