With COVID-19 continuing to disrupt solar players around the world, PV Tech caught up with Simon Brown, Director of Power at international solar consultancy RINA, to discuss how the pandemic is affecting PV development. The Italy-headquartered firm, active in the energy, marine and transport sectors, boasts an international renewables business of about 170 consultants. Its offices in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, India, Singapore, North and South America specialise in solar power generation, transmission and distribution.
PV Tech: How is Covid-19 impacting on RINA’s solar business worldwide?
Simon Brown: The impact so far has not been too extensive. Clearly, site visits are curtailed for the time being, which is understandable when considering the current social distancing guidance and wider travel restrictions. A good proportion of the work we undertake is at the development phase of solar projects. This business seems to be largely unaffected, at least for the time being. RINA is continuing to support its clients remotely, but then we already had in place a robust crisis plan which covered things like loss of access to our offices due to either man-made or natural events. Many of us use remote working on a fairly regular basis anyway, and so for most of us, this is (almost) business as normal.
A great deal of our work comprises analysis and modelling, or doing third-party reviews, so we are running simulations and conducting data analysis, accessing our servers remotely. We are connecting with each other and our clients all over Europe and the rest of the world; linked either by audio or video through the good offices of Microsoft. Of course, efficient data exchange continues via the web, but we are seeing an increased time overhead, largely in reaching out to each other as well as to our clients.
PV Tech: How do you think COVID-19 will affect the industry going forward?
Simon Brown: On the whole, I think the industry remains confident, and whilst electricity consumption is reported to have fallen, largely due to the temporary closure of commercial offices and factories, the push for more renewable generation is anticipated to continue. Indeed, renewables are taking an increased share of current generation. The reality is that some construction and commissioning work is clearly being affected by Covid-19. Some months ago, before the virus became global, we were hearing of issues around availability of PV panels and steelwork. It stands to reason that as China is the biggest manufacturer of PV panels there will probably be some delays in project delivery. On the other hand, the investment market still seems keen to support projects in this area.
We are getting plenty of requests for proposals and are winning projects on a regular basis. RINA continues to deliver our work as normal and remains ready and willing to support our client base around the world both now and in the future.
PV Tech has set up a dedicated tracker to map out how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting solar supply chains worldwide. You can read the latest updates here.
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