The record Q1 numbers reported in SEIA and Wood Mackenzie’s most recent U.S. Solar Market Insight are a snapshot of a time long gone, of a solar industry largely untouched by the coronavirus.
In fact, at a whopping 3.6 GW of new solar photovoltaic capacity, Q1 2020 was the largest first quarter ever in the United States by nearly a gigawatt.
But trouble lies ahead for the rooftop sector in 2020, which will be down 32% in 2020 compared to pre-Covid forecasts, according to SEIA. It’s only the robust pipeline of big solar projects that will permit the industry to show growth compared to 2019.
The report notes that only a “handful of states had begun to implement stay-at-home orders by the end of Q1, meaning that the impacts of coronavirus on Q1 2020 installations are marginal and are expected to be seen primarily in Q2.”
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is being felt in construction delays, loss of customer demand and loss of access to project financing. (Although pv magazine finds utility-scale developers adapting pretty well and a steady stream of solar projects bigger than 100 MW in even the least likely states.)
Here are the key takeaways from the report.
- The U.S. will install 113 GW of solar from 2020 to 2025, revised down 3.6 GW from earlier forecasts
- In Q1 2020, solar accounted for nearly 40% of all new electricity generating capacity added in the U.S.
- The impact of the pandemic has hit distributed solar the hardest — the segment will see 31% fewer installations than 2019 and substantial decreases in residential and non-residential markets.
- Wood Mackenzie forecasts 33% annual growth in 2020, with nearly 18 GW of installations expected — down 1.7 GW from the earlier U.S. forecast
Despite the miserable year, Wood Mackenzie anticipates 33% growth in 2020, due to the robust 14 GW utility-scale segment driven by record utility-scale procurement totals in 2019 and Q1 2020.
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ALL rooftop solar projects start with permitting, from local authorities, and the public works departments have been shut down along with contractors throughout these 3 months. Projects backlogged, still need permits, even now, after re-opening. At the end of Q2, backlogged solar rooftop projects are numerouse and in Q3 will be all the backlogs of Q2 and new Q3 projects held up by lack of labor shortages, not work shortages. Furlowed workers can not make up the time with 16 hour work days but will need to train more workers or jobs will just have to wait their turn. Q2 will be the “lost quarter” for all, in the history books, but millions of lives saved will fight back to prosperity and elect to go solar just because of the savings of money over high utility rates. Many will do roof top solar to “save the Planet” now, but, over the next 10 years, utilities will go solar and wind because it will be less expensive than building new fossil fuel fired power plants or even buying the fuel to keep them going.
Seems like once we have a sane administration and the tariffs on solar come off growth would escalate even more. Hope so at least. Although doubling in less than 5 years isn’t too bad. Having around 200GW installed at the end of 2025 would be a start. It seems like a lot of the big utility projects are just accelerating so hopefully this is, like all solar projections, pessimistic.
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