COVID lockdowns in China exacerbating solar and energy storage shipping crisis

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The Port of Shanghai (pictured) is the world’s busiest container port, but is experiencing major delays as a result of lockdowns in Shanghai. Image: Alex Needham.

COVID-related lockdowns in China are causing port congestion and delays to shipments of clean energy materials, exacerbating an already tight supply chain situation.

COVID-19 infections have spiralled in China in recent weeks, with both Shanghai and Ningbo having been placed into stringent lockdowns. Shanghai and Ningbo are also the locations of two critical ports and sea freight hubs and combined are said to handle the significant majority – upwards of 90% – of solar module export volume from China.

In a note issued last week, JinkoSolar said that congestion at ports had increased by nearly ten-fold in the past fortnight, with shipping giant Maersk also warning of major transportation delays as a result of the Shanghai lockdown.

Road freight in the region has also been restricted as a result of the lockdowns.

JinkoSolar said that while congestion at the ports of Shanghai and Ningbo usually worsens in April, delays being felt now are worse than normal and, as a result, the ‘Solar Module Super League’ manufacturer has warned of longer delivery times and increases in transportation costs.

“It is not a single logistic issue; it impacts all export cargo. So, understanding and patience are needed, and being updated with the latest shipping information is also necessary. Since the very beginning of this breakout in Shanghai, Jinkosolar has kept close communication and cooperation with vessels suppliers to prioritise handling of queued containers, planning for knock-on effects to minimise the impact of the lockdown on the port’s vessel backlog,” Dany Qian, VP at JinkoSolar, said.

JinkoSolar has also recommended that wherever possible, EPCs and distributors increase inventory levels and secure orders for projects as soon as possible, with pricing trends unlikely to fall.

Delays are also being experienced in the energy storage space, with developer Ameresco declaring force majeure on a 2.1GWh project under development in California because of delays in the transport of lithium-ion batteries meant for the site.

Sister publication has the full story here.

Shipping congestion has been felt across most of the world’s major ports over the past 12 months and while it has eased of late, US developers and EPCs were known to be experiencing major delays at the twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles throughout Q4 2021 and Q1 2022, as many manufacturers noted in their respective results disclosures.

An extensive review of shipping availability and pricing, including forecasts of transportation costs into 2023, is included within the forthcoming edition of PV Tech Power, published later this month.

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