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How Will Coronavirus Affect the Solar Energy Market?

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Jenna Tsui's picture
Energy and Sustainability Journalist The Byte Beat

Hi, my name is Jenna Tsui and I'm an energy, sustainability, and technology journalist located in Texas. I co-own a technology blog called The Byte Beat and I primarily write about technology...

  • Member since 2019
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  • Apr 10, 2020

COVID-19 is affecting people and sectors around the world. No one is sure how long the pandemic will last or when life might return to relative normalcy. These uncertain times leave many individuals wondering how the Coronavirus will impact the solar energy market. Here are some possibilities. 

U.S. Renewable Energy Companies May Get Assistance

With the first Coronavirus stimulus package recently passed by U.S. legislators, renewable energy companies may convince lawmakers to help them, too. 

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, recently spoke of attempting to pass an "infrastructure plan," which could help the renewable energy sector. She called such a move "essential because of the historic nature of the health and economic emergency that we are confronting."

Then, Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, thinks an infrastructure plan should start at the Senate level rather than the House. While speaking on MSNBC's "Squawk Box," Sullivan said, "[The package]  should include infrastructure, the president is very supportive of that. It should also include this issue of bringing back manufacturing and our supply chains back to this country."

Of course, more sectors than renewable energy comprise what legislators may define as "infrastructure." It remains to be seen, then, how much solar panel providers and related companies may get to weather the Coronavirus storm. 

Timeframes for Solar Energy Projects Might Shift

The Coronavirus could force businesses to accept delays in their solar energy plans. The Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certification provides a framework and points-based system that organizations can use to maximize energy efficiency. LEED certification requires examining the entire lifespan of a building. Company representatives seeking certification must account for design, occupancy and the structure's possible demolition. 

Whether a business is in the middle of its LEED certification plans or not, leaders that want to implement solar power should keep in mind that supply chain shortages and shutdowns could affect how quickly their intentions go ahead. Government leaders across the United States have enforced temporary closure orders and stipulated which industries offer "essential" services. They can remain open while following social distancing guidelines. 

Somik Das, a senior power analyst at GlobalData, also points out that supply chain issues may stifle solar companies' progress. "Many solar [photovoltaic (PV)] developers in Asia and other parts of the world have experienced prolonged delays in importing solar PV modules and other related supplies."

Das continued, "The global solar PV value chain is particularly affected because the manufacturing capacity of the countries is concentrated in a few major markets such as China, the U.S., Taiwan and Japan. Most of these nations have been impacted by the pandemic. In addition to this, many of the developers around the world are dependent on the Chinese manufacturers to provide the PV modules."

The Demand for Solar Power Could Increase 

Despite the economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus, some investors still see renewable energy as a smart choice. That's the conclusion made by a recent article from "The Wall Street Journal" that quoted several energy industry professionals about their successes during the COVID-19 outbreak. These accounts suggest people are still eager to embrace solar power.

In New South Wales, Australia, many people view solar energy as a type of security in unsettled times. One solar retailer there, Smart Energy Group, reported a 41% sales increase, plus a 400% boost in people asking questions about batteries, during two weeks in March 2020.  Co-founder and director Elliot Hayes cited many factors leading to the desire for solar energy, including the recent bushfires and floods in Australia. 

He also mentioned how people want to make their homes more resilient and see solar power as a way to do it. Hayes explained, "Our growth is a byproduct of economic uncertainty that is driving both residential consumers and businesses to look for ways to future-proof their savings, homes and businesses."

Hayes believes a growing concern over the environment also drives solar demand. "People are also more worried about the state of the planet than they have been before, and rightly so. They’re looking for ways they can make a difference like conserving energy, being aware of the products they buy and their means of transportation."

It'll be interesting to see if other companies and countries see similar responses from people who want to depend on solar power. Will the spike in demand persevere? Only time will tell. 

​​​​​​​Flexibility Is Essential for the Solar Energy Market

These are uncertain times for everyone. Remaining flexible should put solar power companies in optimal positions no matter what the future holds. 

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Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Apr 10, 2020

Jenna,  Great article thanks for sharing. 

Jenna Tsui's picture
Jenna Tsui on Apr 13, 2020

Thank you so much for reading, Audra! :-)

Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on Apr 16, 2020

(1) Supply chains have been affected negatively.

(2) International  economic depression will delay the implementation of the projects

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