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As solar PV module prices continue to decline globally, balance-of-system (BOS) components will assume a majority share of a PV project’s total cost per watt within the next year, according to GTM Research. In 2010, BOS costs accounted for approximately 44.8% (US$1.43 per watt) of a typical, utility-scale crystalline silicon (c-Si) project, with that percentage forecasted to increase to 50.6% in 2012. This economic shift is driving industry attention beyond the module toward achieving economic gains for key BOS components and services, including mounting structures, foundations, labor, civil works, cables, engineering and combiner boxes.

“Mounting structures are an access point for both BOS cost reductions and business opportunity”

GTM Research’s latest report, Solar PV Balance of System (BOS): Technologies and Markets is a comprehensive analysis of the product innovations and economic positioning of these key BOS components. At 140 pages with more than 100 exhibits, the report provides coverage of all PV system components beyond the module and inverter, featuring BOS cost roadmaps, component market sizing and mounting structure demand globally and by country for the U.S., Germany, Italy, Rest of 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.”

In addition to mapping BOS costs through 2013, the report examines market shares globally and by country for mounting structures, which hold the largest share of BOS component costs at US$0.23 per watt for typical, utility-scale c-Si projects. Globally, rooftop mounting structures accounted for 83% of the total market in 2010. As major demand centers mature beyond Europe, the report forecasts that number to decrease to 66% by 2015; utility markets in North America and Asia will provide demand for ground-mounted fixed and tracking structures, which will achieve global shares of 27% and 7%, respectively, by 2015.

“Mounting structures are an access point for both BOS cost reductions and business opportunity,” said Manhal Aboudi, the report’s author. “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.”

For more in-depth coverage on the Solar PV Balance of System (BOS): Technologies and Markets report, visit