The single-axis tracker market has long been dominated by the United States. However, over the next five years, the global tracker market is expected to expand significantly, driven by growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The tracker market will grow 62 percent this year, reaching 23 gigawatts (DC) of installations, Wood Mackenzie predicts in a new report.
While this year has seen an exceptionally large jump, the tracker market will grow on average by 11 percent annually from 2019 through 2024. The U.S. will remain the country with the most cumulative tracker installations during that timeframe.
Global Tracker Installations by Region, 2015-2024E (MW-DC)
Even though the overall market is rapidly expanding, prices will not significantly decline. As a result, vendors are working to expand their offerings, with an eye to software and additional services that range from design to operations and maintenance.
As Wood Mackenzie noted in April, NexTracker is the world’s leading tracker vendor, claiming one-third of global market share by shipments in 2018. Other top firms claim roughly between 8 percent and 12 percent of the market each, including Array Technologies, PV Hardware, Arctech Solar and Soltec.
Prices and margins
After a sharp decline, the global tracker average selling price (ASP) plateaued briefly from 2017 to 2018, largely the result of rising steel prices and U.S.-imposed tariffs.
Historically, the global ASP held closely to the U.S. price as a result of the U.S. dominating the market. But as other regional tracker markets continue to pick up steam, the global ASP will further decouple from the U.S.
By the end of 2019 the global ASP will start declining and will continue to fall at an average of 2 percent annually through 2024, even as U.S. prices stagnate.
By 2024 Asia-Pacific will have the lowest prices globally, while prices in Africa will tick up toward the end of the forecast window as the higher-cost South African market expands.
More to offer
Echoing a trend seen in the inverter market this year, price pressure is leading a number of key vendors to expand their offerings with a focus on software. Some vendors are also building new services into their business.
The goal of this expansion of services is to allow firms to differentiate themselves from the competition by moving beyond manufacturing to focus more on refining customers' workflows.
Proprietary SCADA software (STI Norland) and backtracking software (NexTracker) are of interest to tracker companies. Customer service platforms that streamline maintenance are also appearing (Soltec).
Vendors also offer services ranging from designed and engineering support to installation, project management, and operations and maintenance.
Several vendors have stated that they are interested in pursuing energy storage offerings, but few have actually done so thus far. As of 2019, NexTracker is the only major tracker company with a storage offering.
Tracker vendors have launched bifacial-compatible products in response to the growing popularity of bifacial modules. While these modules can be used in either fixed-tilt configurations or with single-axis trackers, trackers are able to increase the gains more significantly.
The two most common configurations offered for bifacial-compatible trackers are one-in-portrait (1P) and two-in-portrait (2P). While some vendors have chosen a side by offering only 1P or 2P, other vendors offer both.
Tracker installations are expected to more than double from 2018 to 2024, and as such, there will be continuing opportunities for vendors to pick up market share in burgeoning regions through service differentiation and price competition.
Learn more about Wood Mackenzie's new report on PV Trackers here.