The rapid spread of the COVID-19 is paralyzing the global economy and photovoltaics are no exception, according to the latest projections published by experts. Solar power projects may slow amid disruptions in the supply chain due to the coronavirus pandemic and new installations should drop this year for the first time in modern history, a report showed.
The central point has been China, the dominant manufacturing force in the solar power sector, as the coronavirus outbreak led to lockdowns across the country. Factories were hit in Wuhan, Sichuan and Zhejiang, Chief Executive of Clean Energy Associates Andy Klump has told BloombergNEF.
Its researchers revised the total demand outlook for photovoltaic installations this year to a range of 108 GW to 143 GW from between 121 GW and 152 GW. This would be the first annual decrease since the 1980s.
No end in sight for crisis
Production has apparently started recovering but the focus then only shifts to delivery issues and the demand side with the pandemic’s historic blow to Europe and other markets. Furthermore, the report adds, decision makers will likely turn their attention away from clean energy to other major concerns.
On the other hand, new wind power capacity is still looking to reach a record in 2020, the update reveals, but together with a warning of a downside risk to earlier targets.
Customers could redirect some orders to Southeast Asia
The delays in supply raise the question of whether big producers of solar power systems would try and source subcomponents from other countries than China. Klump pointed to the potential of expansion in Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, but also Cambodia to some extent.
In any case, customers will look to larger manufacturers and more stable supply chains, he estimated. The CEO still expressed optimism regarding long-term prospects for financing.
Factory launches in China are late, firms are understaffed
Corrine Lin, Chief Analyst at PV InfoLink from Taiwan, also sees orders for modules pushed back, but not to 2021. In her view, demand will be deferred to the second and third trimesters and China will still account for 42.5 GW or 30% of the world total.
Solar power plant development growth has slowed as factory openings aren’t meeting deadlines and there is a shortage of staff, Lin wrote and highlighted the glitches in transportation. She added junction boxes and aluminum frames are the hardest to find in module production. Prices may rise “in the short term,” the analyst said and asserted the levels would “decline steadily” when the outbreak is contained.