Image credit: CDC / Unsplash
Over its first few months of existence, the COVID-19 crisis has already wreaked major havoc across the world, and the solar industry has not been immune.
From hampered flows of raw materials for manufacturers to financing delays for developers, both upstream and downstream PV players have already felt the weight of the pandemic as it continues its global trek, infecting hundreds of thousands and sparking talk of a worldwide recession.
Only time can confirm what the long-term implications will be from what remains a still-maturing crisis. For now, however, PV Tech will keep an eye on reports on the ground and sound out industry players to share here the latest news and developments as they come, starting with the most recent.
If you have a COVID-19 statement to share or a story on how the pandemic is disrupting a solar business anywhere in the world, do get in touch at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunrun dips again into losses as digital push helps weather tricky Q1 2020
11 May 2020: Sunrun managed to boost revenues in Q1 2020 despite the COVID-19 outbreak but became loss-making once more, amidst a belief that a move to online sales mitigated the hit.
New financial results show the residential installer recorded Q1 2020 revenues of US$210.7 million – up 8% on Q1 2019 figures – but dipped into the red in the quarter just gone, with net losses ($28 million) reversing positive net income in Q3 2019 (US$29 million) and Q4 2019 (US$12.5 million).
The Q1 2020 financial update follows Sunrun’s publication in early April of its solar roll-out figures for the quarter. The firm, seen as the top US residential installer after passing rival Tesla in early 2018, said last month it had deployed 97.4MW of solar systems between January and March 2020.
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Net income, solar installs of Sunrun in 2019 and Q1 2020
|Quarter||Q1 2019||Q2 2019||Q3 2019||Q4 2019||Q1 2020|
|Net income||-US$13.86 million||-US$1.29 million||US$28.9 million||US$12.5 million||-US$27.95 million|
Israel bets on 2GW of solar as part of pandemic comeback
11 May 2020: Israel has joined the list of nations setting their sights on renewables as a driver of economic recovery, with plans now laid out for a major solar pipeline.
In recent days, the Middle Eastern state outlined a roadmap to make energy and water infrastructure a centrepiece of the comeback from COVID-19, which at the time of writing has sparked 16,000-plus reported virus cases and 248 deaths nationwide.
The plan from Energy minister Dr Yuval Steinitz would have Israel invest to deploy a 2GW solar fleet in the coming years, coupled with funding for the streamlining of permits for wind projects, grid upgrades, energy efficiency schemes, alternative transport fuels and other areas.
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Statkraft sees £141m loss in Q1 as power prices fall throughout Europe
11 May 2020: System price drops in the UK and across Europe drove down Nordic energy giant Statkraft’s earnings in Q1 2020, our sister title Current± reports.
In figures released in recent days, the Swedish firm posted nearly £141 million in losses compared to last year. Across its operations, its underlying EBIT fell to £324 million (NOK 4.1 billion), a drop of £213 million (NOK 2.7 billion) compared to the same period in 2019.
The downturn was driven by a significant drop in power demand and electricity prices across the Nordic region, the company said.
See here to read the full story on PV Tech’s sister title Current±
SolarEdge monitoring ‘every order’ to ensure growth after record Q1 2020
11 May 2020: SolarEdge Technologies scored a revenue record in Q1 2020 thanks to growth worldwide and is now keeping a close watch on customers’ financial health, to make sure every order will be paid for.
In recent days. the inverter maker shared results showing profitability held in a quarter when COVID-19 expanded all across its key markets, with US$42.2 million posted in GAAP net income compared to US$19 million in Q1 2019 and US$52.8 million in Q4 2019.
SolarEdge used the update to share new guidance, predicting US$305-335 million revenues for Q2 2020. Quizzed by analysts over the dynamics that will push the firm towards the upper or lower end of the range, CFO Ronen Faier said the group is looking at “every order” to ensure it does not “provide credit to customers that we are a little bit afraid that we will not be able to collect.”
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SolarEdge’s total PV inverter shipments topped 1.840MW in Q1 2020, another record for the company. Image credit: Solar Media
Pandemic brings delays to LatAm green energy enthusiast Mainstream
11 May 2020: A US$1.7 billion solar and wind pipeline in the works in Chile might need more time to reach the finish line amid impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, local media outlets report.
According to Diario Financiero, developer Mainstream has asked power regulator CNE to push back the deadlines for a 1.3GW green energy fleet it wants to deploy in the country, following delays with component supplies and financing. The projects must start supplying in 2021.
World Bank unit acts to shelter Actis’ renewables plants in South Africa from risks
11 May 2020: The World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) has stepped in to protect a slew of South African renewable projects from operational risks.
The guarantees provided by MIGA will offer the assets in question – two solar projects and a further two wind projects, the work of Actis-owned BioTherm – “protection against the risks of Transfer and Inconvertibility, Expropriation, Breach of Contract, and War & Civil disturbance for up to 15 years.”
Boasting a capacity of 288MW all in all, the four new plants are set to go live this year and supply state-run utility monopoly Eskom via 20-year PPAs. MIGA’s intervention comes amid a push by South African renewables to ensure the sector can resume activity after weeks of government-ordered paralysis for project construction.
Spanish solar operators call for self-consumption redtape rollback
11 May 2020: Self-consumption players could help fuel the post-pandemic economic recovery in Spain if permitting obstacles are brought down, solar association UNEF has argued.
In a new proposal aimed at Spain’s regions, UNEF said having to apply for building permits is creating a wait of up to eight months for self-consumption projects, compounding the hit from Spain’s severe – if already winding down – COVID-19 lockdown measures.
Noting that most European countries do not demand building permits from self-consumption developers, UNEF general director José Donoso said “a more agile permitting process is now, more than ever, key to reactivating the ecosystem of self-consumption players.”
PV Tech’s resource library
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Italian solar in fresh call for help as survey shows one-in-five fears bankruptcy
11 May 2020: Italian solar representatives have ramped up their campaign for “quick and effective” government support to the sector, with confidence slipping as the COVID-19 crisis wears on.
Italia Solare president Paolo Rocco Viscontini urged for a “streamlining of bureaucracy” after the trade body’s latest survey of 500 PV operators showed one in five companies fears closure or bankruptcy, with 72% expecting job losses of up to 25%.
As documented by PV Tech weeks ago, Italia Solare already put forward in April a raft of proposals for legislative reform – help with permitting, payment delays and power dispatching – it believes would allow solar to assist with Italy’s economic comeback.
Indian solar poised for ‘surprising’ boost as coal peak draws nearer – analysts
11 May 2020: Lockdown measures could speed up India’s coal-to-renewables transition as the pandemic looks set to bring the fossil fuel’s peak nearer in time, analysts have said.
In comments reported by Climate Home, Tim Buckley of think tank IEEFA said the country – the world’s second largest coal consumer – could “really surprise the global community” with a rapid shift to increasingly cheap solar, provided the right policies are put in place.