A player behind major solar projects in Europe, the US and others has voiced concerns over COVID-19’s impacts on project permitting, warning it could compound delays driven by other factors.
Approached by PV Tech in recent days, German developer and EPC provider juwi called for governments to intervene as the pandemic forces regulatory bodies to step back, adding fresh obstacles for solar projects progressing through administrative barriers.
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“Several licensing authorities have now started to restrict their work,” the firm said in statements emailed to this publication. “In addition, public appointments for project presentations are also cancelled. This will result in further approval delays beyond the previously unspeakable level.”
Governments, the firm went on to say, must step in. “Even though the [coronavirus] crisis is enjoying the highest political attention, governments must now very quickly set the course for the restart of the energy transition,” juwi commented.
Supply delays to start ‘soon’ as work moves online
Juwi’s talk of licensing delays came as the firm claimed it has witnessed “only slight restrictions” in the running of its power plants. Regulations on critical infrastructure, “dedicated” staff and organizational precautions have helped keep its 24/7 control room fully operational, it said.
The German player flagged however upcoming issues with suppliers to both solar and wind projects, adding it expects the delays on this front will start “soon”. The bottlenecks could, juwi added, extend to deployment itself as the pandemic forces to reduce construction teams.
“In project development, our appointments with property owners, appraisers, suppliers, banks and investors are currently taking place under the general hygiene rules – but often digitally instead of personally,” the firm added.
The disruption afflicting the global solar workforce as COVID-19 spreads is being felt across some of the world’s key markets. Just this week, French operators told PV Tech they successfully lobbied the state not to fully postpone tenders, to ensure staff sent home have deadlines to work towards.
200MW-plus PV work in Greece, new 400MW deal in the US
The onset of the COVID-19 crisis finds juwi in the midst of significant solar development and construction work, both in its home market of Germany and beyond.
With headquarters near the German city of Mainz, the firm has become an advocate of mine-side solar systems, having announced its Welzow-Süd 10MW project last May. Over in Greece, the firm recently sold –but will continue to build – a 204.3MWp PV project to oil major HELPE.
Further afield, juwi bagged in January contracts to deploy a 400MW, four-project solar pipeline in the state of Colorado. The milestone came after large-scale EPC contracts in India, South Africa, Turkey and other markets worldwide.
Juwi’s call for government intervention mirrors that of the broader solar industry back in Germany. The country recently opted to freeze auction deadlines, after being urged to protect PV players risking fines and penalties if COVID-19 delays the commissioning of projects.
PV Tech has set up a tracker to map out how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting solar supply chains worldwide. You can read the latest updates here.