PV Tech’s COVID-19 tracker: 18 May - 24 May

By PV Tech
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Image credit: PIRO4D / Pixabay

This is the latest issue of PV Tech's COVID-19 tracker. See links ahead to browse our archives for all news and developments for January 2020 – 29 March 202030 March 2020- 5 April 2020, 6 April 2020 – 12 April 202013 April 2020 – 19 April 202020 April 2020 – 26 April 202027 April 2020 – 3 May 20204 May 2020 – 10 May 2020 and 11 May 2020 – 17 May 2020.  

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 millions 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 jrojo@solarmedia.co.uk or lstoker@solarmedia.co.uk.

Our sister titles Energy.Storage.News and Solar Power Portal have also launched similar trackers to map out COVID-19 impacts on the energy storage sector and the UK solar industry.  

Momentum for agri-solar as EU includes PV in post-COVID food policy proposals

22 May 2020: The calls for the world to tap into solar-powered farming have gained new momentum in the EU, with the European Commission singling out PV as a sound partnership for food growers.

Earlier this week, the EU executive presented new strategies that will guide the bloc’s policies around biodiversity loss and the farm-to-fork food chain. Both documents described solar panels as the source of “biodiversity-friendly soil cover”, an idea long advanced by European PV operators.

Continent-wide association SolarPower Europe hailed the new proposals for solar-powered farmhouses and barns. “Climate protection and the protection of biodiversity can go hand in hand – solar can help promote and conserve biological diversity,” said policy director Aurélie Beauvais.

See here to read SolarPower Europe’s statement and here for more information on the Commission’s new strategies for biodiversity and green farming

US residential solar market set for ‘faster than expected’ rebound

22 May 2020: The US residential solar market could be rebounding from any pandemic-related slide far quicker than anticipated, a recent online discussion heard. 

Panelists participating in a webinar organised by investment bank Roth Capital said that a V-shaped recovery was now on the cards. Others on the call suggested that current sales had recovered to February levels.

While such performance would still be down some 40% lower than expectations, it would constitute a major boon for US installers that have warned for a significant slump in sales throughout Q2 2020.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

Even with a V-shaped recovery, residential installs in the US are still expected to be relatively flat throughout this year, building towards strong growth in 2021, the panel said. Image credit: Solarcity

Surging wind helps UK renewables overtake fossil fuels in Q1 of lockdown

22 May 2020: For the first time ever, more UK electricity came from renewables than fossil fuels throughout the whole of Q1 2020, our sister title Current± reports.

During the first three months of the year, over 40% of Britain’s electricity came from renewable energy sources, with 30.6% coming from gas, according to Drax’s newest Electric Insights Quarterly. This was bolstered by a surge in wind generation on the back of the wettest and windiest February since records began.

See here to read the full story on PV Tech’s sister title Current±

COVID-19 looms as ACME pulls contract to build ‘cheapest’ solar plant – report

22 May 2020: India’s ACME Solar has cancelled its contract to build a 200MW solar plant in Rajasthan that would have supplied power at prices of around US$0.03/kWh, various outlets have reported.

In a move echoed by Reuters, the developer is said to have cited ‘force majeure’ impacts from the COVID-19 outbreak – as well as delays with land purchases and component shipments – as it told Central Electricity Regulatory Commission it was pulling out from the contract.

For its part, government solar agency the SECI is reported to have disputed ACME Solar’s force majeure claims, even as it expressed a hope that “the issues can be resolved by mutual discussion without going into the rival contentions”.

See here to read the Reuters story in full and here for PV Tech’s coverage of Indian solar in the COVID-19 era

Chile’s self-styled first solar-wind hybrid breaks ground in midst of state of emergency

22 May 2020: Enel Green Power (EGP) has started building Chile’s reported “first hybrid industrial plant” amid the country’s COVID-19 state of emergency, with PV panels set to join pre-existing wind turbines.

Earlier this week, the firm announced construction has gotten underway to deploy the 60.9MW Azabache solar plant in the Atacama Desert, side by side with the 90MW Valle de los Vientos wind power complex that lies nearby since it was completed in late 2013.

The PV add-on at the site near the city of Calama (Antofagasta Region) will require US$49 million in investment and will boast 154,710 bifacial panels. The solar arrays should finalise construction by early 2021, EGP said in its prepared statement.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

EPG said that “rigorous work protocols” have been implemented to ensure the safety of staff at the Azabache PV site, from compulsory PPE to social distancing measures. Image credit: Enel Green Power

Indian solar growth ambitions take hit amid predictions of annual 5GW installs

21 May 2020: India’s annual solar installations could witness a 32% year-on-year drop in 2020, researchers have warned after finding Q1 roll-out was the lowest in more than three years.

In findings reported by The Economic Times, Mercom said the pandemic-driven delays with projects could see India install 5GW of solar in 2020, down from the 7.3GW it had added in 2019. The country, the consultancy said, only added 1.08GW of solar in Q1 2020, the lowest figure since 2016.

“The lockdown in the country disrupted the supply chain, lowered power demand, resulted in currency fluctuations making component costs unpredictable, and has exacerbated the liquidity issues,” said Raj Prabhu, group chief executive at Mercom Capital.

See here to read the Economic Times story in full and here for PV Tech’s most recent coverage of Indian solar in the COVID-19 era

Victory for COVID-hit German solar as promised lifting of subsidy cap materialises

21 May 2020: A new deal by Germany’s coalition cabinet has brought good news for the solar operators contending with the COVID-19 crisis, with a subsidy cap now removed for the foreseeable future.

On Monday, an agreement within the federal government – a mix of chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives (CDU/CSU) and the social democrats (SPD) – cleared the final obstacle for the removal of a subsidy freeze, which would have halted state money once installed PV reached 52GW.

The coalition had tentatively agreed to the subsidy cap axing last September, but the measure’s entry into force had been delayed by a separate row over the minimum distance between wind turbines and buildings. All the while, installed PV was fast approaching the 52GW threshold.

See here to read the full story and reactions on PV Tech

Germany says Auf Wiedersehen to the PV subsidy cap: The reactions

German solar association BSW (source)

“We hope that this is actually the long-awaited salvation. Now we cannot waste any more time. Already in the coming week the agreement will have to be legally binding so that the solar cover comes just in time … According to calculations by the BSW, the subsidy restriction applying to an installed photovoltaic output of 52 gigawatts could otherwise be reached as early as July 2020”

Think tank BNE (source)

“[We] welcome the agreement of the grand coalition on wind, photovoltaics and acceleration of planning. The solar cover and the distance scramble are now where they belong, a chapter of political antics in the energy history books … [While] the coalition took the foot off the brakes with the resolutions, it still has to step on the gas. But here, too, there is surprisingly encouragement: the deal in particular on the acceleration of planning is particularly welcome in the agreement, as it shows that what was important in the future was understood: the continuous modernisation, simplification and de-bureaucratisation of the participation, planning and approval processes.”

Friends of the Earth Germany, BUND (source)

“Much ado about nothing … A real breakthrough would have been a comprehensive reform of the Renewable Energy Act [EEG] which stipulates ambitious expansion targets and paths for solar and wind energy. This is the only way to achieve a sustainable and socially just energy transition.”

Large Scale Digital: Grid not COVID-19 the key battle ahead for Iberian solar

21 May 2020: A failure to regulate the ongoing grid turmoil could hinder Iberia’s renewable growth ambitions this decade much more than the COVID-19 crisis itself, according to speakers at Solar Media’s Large Scale Digital Summit.

Speaking as Spain presented a new climate law enshrining its 2030 and 2050 green energy targets, panellists had worries other than the pandemic as they were asked to pinpoint the main obstacle for Iberian solar PV in the coming years.

Ibox board member Lamberto Camacho said his chief concern was the multi-hundred-gigawatt pipeline of project connection requests in Spain, adding: “It boggles the mind. Overcoming this capacity issue is going to require significant effort from government and industry.”

See here to read the PV Tech story in full and here to find out more about Solar Media’s Large Scale Digital Summit.

COVID-19 ‘hurting but not halting’ renewables as IEA revises forecasts

21 May 2020: The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects renewables deployment to rebound next year, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic said to be “hurting, but not halting” growth.

In a revision to forecasts made in October 2019, the IEA now expects total renewables deployment for this year to stand at around 167GW, down some 13% on deployment last year.

Back in October 2019, the IEA had suggested that as much as 106.4GW of solar PV was to be deployed in 2020, itself a slight contraction of the 113.7GW of solar added in 2019. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the IEA expects the annual figure to drop to 90GW.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

SEIA: Vision for solar-powered US decade ‘more relevant than ever’

21 May 2020: The US solar industry’s pre-pandemic growth ambitions remain relevant as the sector fights to keep COVID-19 impacts at bay, nationwide association the SEIA has said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis have highlighted many vulnerabilities and areas in need of reform across our economy,” CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement on Wednesday. “But it has also provided an opportunity to build the future we need.”

Ross Hopper pointed at SEIA’s recent finding of stark US solar job losses so far this year, and added: “Our bold vision for the future — for solar to reach 20% of electricity generation by 2030 during what we’re calling The Solar+ Decade … those goals and efforts are more relevant than ever.”

See here to read the SEIA’s statement in full and here for PV Tech’s more recent coverage of US solar highlights

US solar job cuts are coming “at a faster rate” than for the broader US economy and will shrink the solar workforce to a size not seen since 2014, the SEIA said. Image credit: The SEIA

African off-grid solar players examine lessons from Ebola crisis

21 May 2020: Africa’s off-grid solar installers are applying what they learned during the continent’s Ebola outbreak of 2014 to respond to the current COVID-19 crisis, experts have said.

Writing for Medium, Ewan Bloomfield and Carla Visser of the Power Africa Off-grid Project said sector players in Liberia are tapping into technology, reinforcing staff pay and coaching customers about online transactions to minimise the impacts from the new pandemic.

See here to read the Medium story in full

Brazilian renewables record ‘low’ COVID-19 cases as costs rise

21 May 2020: Brazilian green energy players have managed to keep COVID-19 in check amongst their workforce even as they witnessed a jump in project costs, according to an article on Agência Estado.

The story, out this week, said national solar association ABSOLAR has recorded “few” infections so far while its wind and biodiesel counterparts have reported none, despite Brazil’s approximation to 300,000 cases after becoming this week the third worst-hit country worldwide.

From cleaning and disinfecting to subsidising private transport and on-site rentals, the social distancing measures adopted by Brazilian renewable operators have resulted in cost increases. For some, expenses have jumped by 30% so far this year, the story said. 

See here to read the Agência Estado story and here for PV Tech’s coverage on Brazilian solar

Judge grants temporary block of Mexico’s renewable restrictions – reports

21 May 2020: Mexican courts have reportedly delivered a blow to the government’s campaign to restrict renewable energy, with local outlets describing the granting of temporary injunctions.

According to La Jornada and other publications, a Mexico City court has now provisionally suspended the individual application of the reform passed by power market operator CENACE in late April, granting the request of at least two renewable developers.

The measures – which mandated curbs on renewables including the freezing of grid tests and a potential licensing ban in congested zones – had been challenged by green energy players including FV Mexsolar XI, according to La Jornada.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

Mexico's recent COVID-19 renewable controversy: A timeline

5 May 2020: CENACE blocks renewables on 'COVID-19 stability' grounds, industry promises legal action (See here for full PV Tech story)

13 May 2020: CENACE's clampdown puts Neoen’s ultra-competitive PV plant in limbo, industry says 5GW-plus pipeline affected nationwide (See here for the full PV Tech story)

19 May 2020: EU, Canada step in as outcry mounts against CENACE's restrictions to renewables (See here for the full PV Tech story)

21 May 2020: Judge reported to have granted temporary block of Mexico’s renewable restrictions (See here for the full PV Tech story)

US tops EY attractiveness report despite concern over impact of COVID-19

20 May 2020: The US is the most attractive country in the world for renewable investment for the first time since 2016, leapfrogging China to take top spot in EY's country attractiveness index.

The most recent edition of the consultancy giant's Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) highlights that that the extension of the production tax credit (PTC) along with record wind and solar has helped the US become the leading hub for renewables investment worldwide.

Despite the challenges caused by COVID-19, 2020 is expected to be a record year for many countries including the US, which is expecting to see 13.5GW of utility-scale solar beginning commercial operations.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

Pandemic may speed up Africa’s off-grid solar shift

20 May 2020: The COVID-19 crisis may have brought disruption to Africa’s off-grid solar players but it also offers a chance to accelerate uptake of PV across the continent, an industry operator has said.

Yariv Cohen, CEO at pan-African PV developer Ignite Power, penned this week a guest blog on outlet Devex where he urged his sector peers not make the “mistake” of seeing the current period as a threat only, but instead doubling down on “innovation and creativity”.

From supporting hospitals with solar and tapping into rising demand for domestic PV, African off-grid players must cast a “fresh look” at the opportunities arising in a COVID-19 world, wrote Cohen, adding: “And we must do it today.”

See here to read the Devex opinion article in full and here for PV Tech’s coverage of African solar in the COVID-19 era

Large Scale Digital: Iberian solar players bullish on financing outlook

20 May 2020: Financing has not been a major obstacle for Spanish and Portuguese solar firms grappling with the COVID-19 crisis despite the short-term hit from falling power prices, industry operators have said at Solar Media’s Large Scale Digital Summit.

From Ibox Energy’s board member Lamberto Camacho to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL)’s senior director Tomás García, speakers at an online session on Tuesday coincided in reporting few challenges on the financing front, despite the pandemic’s squeeze on economies in recent months.

“In terms of what’s been the least impacted [by COVID-19] I think surprisingly it’s been financing,” said Camacho, while García pointed out that the tightening of funding terms forced by tumbling power prices has put some solar operations on hold, but not all.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full and here to find out more about Solar Media’s Large Scale Digital Summit.

Speakers agreed that a new Spanish auction would be useful in restarting solar growth but they remained uneasy around the ultra-low tariffs seen with Portugal's PV tender. Image credit: Solar Media

UK ‘big six’ player OVO Energy sheds 2,600 jobs as COVID-19 impacts bite

20 May 2020: OVO Energy has announced 2,600 redundancies as COVID-19 puts pressure on the company’s integration of SSE Energy Services, our sister title Current± reports.

Since the acquisition of SSE Energy Services was completed in January, OVO has started integrating the two businesses, including the 8,000 members of staff it gained.

But as consumers have increasingly turned to digital services over the past couple of months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “this has permanently reduced the demand for some functions and roles,” the firm said.

See here to read the full story on PV Tech’s sister title Current±

EBRD sponsors Polish renewables as country eyes future past coal, COVID-19

20 May 2020: A green energy firm has bagged support from development financier the EBRD for a 200MW portfolio in Poland, a push emerging as the country works to curb its reliance on coal and bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the EBRD said it will grant PLN 280 million (US$67 million) in loans to a fleet of solar (25MW) and wind (175MW) by French-owned developer Qair, with five debt packages set to back the portfolio of yet-to-be-built and already-operational renewables.

The onset of the COVID-19 crisis finds Polish solar at an auspicious time, with installed PV capacity more than doubling between 2018 (562MW) and 2019 (1.3GW). The pandemic has not stopped fossil fuel players such as coal-reliant utility PGE from pledging money for a renewable shift.

See here to read the EBRD’s statement and here for PV Tech’s more recent coverage of the solar ambitions of PGE and Poland’s broader PV prospects

EU, Canada step in as outcry mounts against Mexico’s block to renewables

20 May 2020: The row over Mexico’s recent clampdown on the green energy industry has flared anew in the past few days, with major EU economies and Canada acting to voice their concerns.

The government of president Andrés Manuel López Obrador stepped up this week its defence of restrictions for renewable projects passed earlier in May, which have sparked legal threats from green energy associations and the broader business community.

The clampdown critics were recently joined by some of Europe’s largest economies and Canada, which sent separate letters on the same day (15 May 2020) asking for a meeting with Mexican Energy minister Rocío Nahle to share their concerns over the restrictions to renewables.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

In their own words: EU, Canadian ambassadors share unease over AMLO's renewable policies

France, Germany, Italy, Spain and 15 other EU states: “[Power market operator] CENACE’s decision to suspend indefinitely the operational launch of renewables and limit the output of already operational plants could disincentivise private investment including from abroad, based on what several European firms are telling us … CENACE’s decision could negatively impact 44 clean energy projects across 18 [Mexican] states, which will threaten investments, including those from EU firms, of more than US$6.4 billion”.

Canada: “This agreement comes to join the other measures and policy changes that go against renewable investments in the country. Over the past few months, Canadian firms with activities in the country have faced several challenges and shared their concern over the decision to cancel clean energy auctions … Businesses such as ATCO, Canadian Solar, Cubico Sustainable Investments and Northland Power have put their trust in Mexico as an investment destination and yet the new measures put at risk around US$450 million of investment and the creation of over 1,000 jobs”.

Reports of retroactive rent bills pile further pressure on job-shedding US solar

19 May 2020: The revenues of COVID-hit US solar projects may stomach a new blow after reports that the federal government is demanding years’ worth of rent payments, bringing a reprieve to an end.

Earlier today, Reuters claimed that Iberia-owned Avangrid and other firms developing renewables on US federal land are being sent bills requiring the payment of multi-million rent fees, suspended after the US Department of Interior (DOI) enacted a so-called “holiday” in late 2018.

The reports emerged as new stats from PV body SEIA indicated US solar has lost 65,000 jobs so far since February, with COVID-19 as the “direct” cause. The figure is set to swell to a cumulative 114,000 by June, a threshold set to wipe out the jobs US solar had gained over five years.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

Spanish solar reps table plan for country to tap into €20bn PV comeback

19 May 2020: Spain could trigger a two-digit-billion-euro investment splurge if it pushes PV goals to the heart of the COVID-19 economic recovery, according to Spanish solar association UNEF.

In recent days, the trade body put forward a roadmap for the country to nurture an industrial chain of solar manufacturers and developers, unlocking the €20 billion of investment required to add 30GW of new solar by 2030 in line with national targets.

See here to read UNEF’s roadmap in full

Back to work: How solar EPCs have adapted to the pandemic

19 May 2020: Solar EPCs have detailed how social distancing measures and other work practices have been put into place to ensure developments can continue amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

EPC players approached for an upcoming PV Tech Power feature explained they have turned to remote working practices, socially distanced construction clusters and so-called ‘Toolbox Talks’ to keep engines ticking across markets beset by lockdown measures.

British engineering firm Worley walked this publication through its latest work alongside Shanghai Electric on the NoorEnergy1 CSP-plus-PV project in Dubai, while Solarcentury laid out the steps it has followed to ensure construction could continue at sites in the Netherlands and Spain.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

Solar's post-pandemic future takes centre stage of upcoming PV Tech Power issue  

The solar industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic – detailing specifically how developments have continued and what role solar can play in a green recovery – is the cover feature of the forthcoming PV Tech Power volume 23. The journal is to be released digitally on 28 May 2020. See here for more information on how to subscribe. 

Sunny weather and cleaner skies spark ‘bumper’ solar generation in the UK

19 May 2020: The Guardian’s Weatherwatch has added its name to the list of news programmes noting the boost to UK solar generation in a season of lockdown measures and favourable weather.

Earlier this week, a post penned by Paul Brown cited the improving air quality and sunny spring weather as factors behind the “bumper” solar output the country has seen. “Even older installations, such as the panels on my own roof, installed eight years ago, have broken daily production records several times since lockdown began,” Brown said.

See here to read the Guardian story and here for coverage of PV Tech’s sister title Solar Power Portal of UK solar in the age of COVID-19.

SunPower sells O&M unit to Canadian investor as Maxeon spin-off is approved

19 May 2020: SunPower has made strides with two consequential transactions meant to redraw its business lines, a strategic refocusing for a firm bracing for a COVID-driven slowdown this quarter.

In recent days, it emerged that the firm has now sold its O&M unit to Clairvest Group, a private equity investor headquartered in Toronto. The valuation of the unit and other financial terms of the sell-off have yet to be disclosed by either party.

The O&M unit sell-off came as another of SunPower’s high-profile moves – the spin-off of its manufacturing business to new listed entity Maxeon Solar Technologies – was endorsed by Chinese regulators. The green light means the planned split could complete by the end of this quarter.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

US solar module shipments reach three-year monthly high

19 May 2020: New stats from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) show the shipment of solar modules reached 2.04GWp in March 2020, even as the country began its descent into COVID-19 lockdown.  

The 2.04GWp figure is both the highest in the EIA’s monthly records going back to 2017 and remains ahead the 1.49GWp and 1.36GWp volumes recorded by the agency for January and February 2020, respectively. At 1.7GW of the 2.04GWp, most of shipped modules were imports into the US.

EIA’s monthly update emerges as the controversy around US solar import tariffs shows no sign of abating, with Donald Trump’s administration moving to extend the levies to bifacial solar components in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

See here to read the EIA’s latest update on US solar shipment data and here for PV Tech's recent coverage of US solar in the COVID-19 era

The EIA’s most recent stats for US solar shipments

Month Monthly shipments Value of overall monthly shipments Average solar module value
December 2019 1.95GWp US$796 million US$0.41 per peak watt
January 2020 1.49GWp US$603 million US$0.40 per peak watt
February 2020 1.36GWp US$621 million US$0.46 per peak watt
March 2020 2.04GWp US$759 million US$0.37 per peak watt
Source: The Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Italy reappoints Enel CEO Starace after pandemic-driven process delays

19 May 2020: The board of energy giant Enel has confirmed Francesco Starace as group CEO and general manager, closing off a process set back by the initial onset of the COVID-19 crisis.

The endorsement of Starace came as all directors at the board committed to donating 15% of their pay to various solidarity schemes against the pandemic. The funds will help sponsor a crowdfunding initiative Enel launched in mid-April, set to support selected third-sector associations.

Starace’s reappointment finds Enel working to add a fresh 14.1GW of green energy capacity by 2022. At 11.7GW, the sizeable coal portfolio the group retains saw it recently put under observation by Norwegian fund backer GPFG, who owned US$1.7 billion of Enel shares as of last year.

See here to read Enel’s statement in full and here for PV Tech's broader coverage of Enel-related solar news

Chile’s energy bill amnesty triggering ‘financial crisis’ for renewable players

19 May 2020: Chile’s decision to freeze energy bills to support its population at the time of COVID-19 is pushing green energy firms to the “financial limit”, a First Solar representative has said.

In statements reported by La Tercera – Pulso, asset manager Gabriel Ortiz warned that the government’s measure may spark a US$3.3 million hit for his firm alone. “Today, renewable firms are nearing the limit,” he remarked. “It’s not as if they don’t want to contribute – they just can’t.”

See here to read the full story on La Tercera – Pulso

Pandemic recovery planning revives quest for European solar manufacturing

18 May 2020: The debate around the choices Europe should make as it bounces back from COVID-19 is breathing new life into the campaign to restore the continent’s position as a solar manufacturing hub.

Governments of major EU countries recently added their weight to the quest to revive European solar makers, battered after years of dominance by low-cost Asian rivals and the phase-out of EU import barriers in late 2018.

In a joint letter, Environment, Energy and Economy ministers of Austria, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland and Spain urged the European Commission to enshrine solar, wind and energy storage manufacturing as a “strategic” axis of the COVID-19 recovery.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

Solar manufacturing priorities: The areas EU ministers think the Commission should focus on

“As regards the solar industry sector, the European Union should focus on circular solutions and high added value chains such as: innovative, upper quality PV panels; power electronics to improve grid integration; integration of solar PV and thermal power in industrial processes; and technologies that enable a more efficient use of land, such as solar tracking technologies or building integration of PV. Energy storage technologies allows achieving the full potential of variable wind and solar technologies”

Source: Letter from eight countries to the European Commission

Bullish solar helps Spain clinch ‘most renewable day in history’ in midst of lockdown

18 May 2020: Spanish solar generation reached an all-time high in April 2020 and helped the country finish the month with its “most renewable day in history”, according to grid operator REE.

New figures from the agency show PV plants produced 1,143GWh nationwide throughout last month, and joined other green energy sources as they all reached a collective 69% share on 30 April 2020. At a 6.2% share, PV was overtaken by wind (46.6%) and hydro (13.2%) that day.

See here to read REE’s statement in full and here for PV Tech’s broader coverage of Spanish solar news

‘Confident’ Sunnova maintains full-year guidance as Q1 installs jump

18 May 2020: Sunnova has gone against the tide of US residential solar players shelving full-year guidance in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, predicting its business model makes prior targets deliverable.

On Thursday, the Houston-headquartered firm said it still expects to reach adjusted EBITDA of US$58-62 million and add 28,000-30,000 new customers by the end of the year, retaining guidance it had first put forward in late February.

As part of its new update, Sunnova posted solar installs of 53.5MW for Q1 2020, split between leases (12.3MW), PPAs (28MW) and loans (13.2MW). The quarterly total is the highest in company records going back to Q2 2017, exceeding its 25.6MW-46.1MW roll-out rates every quarter last year.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

Sunnova quarterly installs in 2019 and so far this year

Q1 2019 Q2 2019 Q3 2019 Q4 2019 Q1 2020 All-time cumulative (as of 31 March 2020)
Leases 6.5MW 7MW 8.6MW 9.8MW 12.3MW 203.5MW
PPAs 11.7MW 17.2MW 22MW 24.5MW 28MW 328MW
Loans 7.4MW 7.7MW 8.5MW 11.8MW 13.2MW 94.1MW
Total MW 25.6MW 31.9MW 39.1MW 46.1MW 53.5MW 625.6MW
Source: Sunnova

Coal ‘will never recover’ as COVID-19 dynamics usher in green energy era

18 May 2020: The global sector “will never recover” in the post-pandemic era as lockdown measures worldwide accelerate the rise of renewables, experts have told The Guardian.

In an article over the weekend, the UK outlet noted the decision by utilities worldwide to switch off coal first as the power demand plunge lays bare the cheaper costs of solar and wind, compounding the climate and economic pressure the fossil fuel already faced pre-pandemic.

See here to read the Guardian story in full

US renewables to outrun coal as pandemic delivers ‘once unthinkable’ milestone

18 May 2020: Predictions are being made that US renewables generation could outpace coal's in 2020, a historic first despite the country’s administration’s efforts to revive the fossil fuel industry.

In forecasts covered by The New York Times, the US’ Energy Information Administration said US-wide output from coal plants could drop to a 19% share this year, dipping for the first time below that of green energy sources such as solar and wind.

See here to read The New York Times’ story in full

Industry: Permitting ‘key’ barrier to bring down as Europe plots COVID-19 course

18 May 2020: SolarPower Europe and other of the continent’s renewable trade bodies have rallied behind calls on EU policymakers to trim red-tape around project permitting.

In a letter sent to the European Commission, eight sector associations urged the EU executive to closely monitor whether EU states have the manpower and budget to deal with project applications, likely to speed up as countries sponsor renewables in line with national climate plans.

“To this date almost all the final [national energy and climate plans] remain equally silent on the policies that will speed up permitting on the ground,” the letter said. “Most Member States have not even planned for additional administrative or human resources to issue the permits needed to meet their 2030 renewable energy goals. This is a red flag for the industry.”

See here to read the statement in full and here for PV Tech’s latest coverage on European solar in the COVID-19 era.

PV Tech’s resource library

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Audax’s revenues take hit from power market disruption but margins rise

18 May 2020: The pandemic-driven plunge in power prices has dented the Q1 2020 revenues of Spanish distributor Audax Renovables even as profit margins grew, the latest results show.

In recent days, the firm – which boosted profitability last year after a strategic shift to the PV segment – linked the 37-53% year-on-year power price drops seen under Spain’s lockdown with a fall of Q1 company-wide revenues, posted as gross margins jumped 10% to 13% compared to 2019.

Audax, the offtaker of some of the largest solar PPAs seen in Iberia last year, managed to keep construction ticking for some of its own projects. Various ventures in Castilla-La Mancha and elsewhere will be completed “without significant delays”, the firm said in its Q1 update.

See here to read Audax’s statement in full and here for PV Tech’s coverage of Audax’s solar highlights in 2019

UK looks to delay Electricity Supplier Obligation Regulations payments due to COVID-19

18 May 2020: The UK's Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a consultation on the Electricity Supplier Obligation Regulations payments due to the impact of COVID-19, our sister title Current± reports.

It will look at the option to defer the payment of part of the amount of the increase in electricity suppliers' obligations that was expected to be collected by the Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC) for Q2 2020 through to Q1 2021.

See here to read the full story on PV Tech’s sister title Current±

Nigeria targets residential solar as part of COVID-19 comeback plans

18 May 2020: Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari will make the mass-scale installation of solar atop homes nationwide part of the COVID-19 recovery, it has been reported.

In a statement covered by national outlets, Buhari listed “large scale installation of residential solar systems, utilizing mainly local materials” among the measures his government will roll out to reactivate the economy, together with programmes for housing, road construction and others.

See here to read the Nigerian outlet reports in full

4 October 2022
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