The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak has caused a slowdown of China economic growth. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut China’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth outlook by 0.4% to 5.6% but also alerted of further alterations, taking into account the extent and magnitude of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The current scenario in the country is going to have an effect on its power demand and generation. China is a world leader in renewable energy investment. The country has proved itself as a leader in wind power installation, wind turbine manufacturing and solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing.

The country’s renewable power sector is experiencing the impact of the Covid-19, specifically wind and solar PV, which could witness lower capacity additions in Q1 2020 due to suspended manufacturing and construction works.

China is a leader in terms of solar PV installations and the production of solar PV panels. The country has the largest installed solar power capacity of more than 205GW, contributing more than 35% of the global installations. China’s annual installation was expected to be approximately 30GW in 2020 and the outbreak is likely to impact solar installations at the end of the year in 2020.

Globally, China is the biggest manufacturing economy, including solar PV equipment manufacturing. The solar sector is expected to face the heat, given the tight capacity in solar equipment manufacturing. Of the top ten solar PV manufacturers in terms of module shipments, the majority of them are China-based. These include Jinko Solar, JA Solar, Trina Solar, LONGi Solar, Risen Energy, GCL System and Suntech. Coronavirus-hit province Zhejiang is home to a few of Jinko Solar’s manufacturing works, the largest Solar Module Super League (SMSL), while JA Solar is also involved in manufacturing operations in the province.

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Post Covid-19 outbreak, the Jiangsu province in China took the hardest hit in terms of solar PV production capacity as more than 60% of the country’s solar PV panels are made here as per the Gofa institute, a part of the Chinese government’s National Energy Administration (NEA).

The key manufacturing hubs in the Jiangsu province include Canadian Solar, LONGi Group, Trina Solar, Q-CELLS and JA Solar. Due to the outbreak, the solar power market has concerns with regards to material supply shortage and logistical restrictions due to closed borders, which could increase the price of solar modules that otherwise was rapidly plunging. The shortage will delay equipment deliveries and affect the solar sector’s global supply chain.

While the country is beginning to get back to work at a slow pace after the coronavirus outbreak, many factories have not yet started operating at a full capacity due to shortage of staff and raw materials. Solar PV manufacturers such as Trina Solar has alerted about production delays and LONGi Green has commented that there is no significant outcome on its solar PV panel sales and production and its shipment targets will also not experience any changes this year.

The NEA and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) have notified about the threats coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak poses to the power industry and the Chinese Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA) has recommended the Chinese government to delay connection deadlines of large-scale solar power projects on March 31 and June 30. In the current situation, late project completion will impact the amount of subsidies received.

The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak will affect the overall supply chain and solar installations not only in China but globally, mostly the in the US and other countries such as India and Australia, heavily dependent on Chinese raw materials and components. Many solar manufacturing plants located outside of China are dependent on Chinese imports for raw materials such as aluminium framing and solar PV glass.

With more than 75GW installed as of 2019, the US is majorly dependent on solar PV panel production from China. The country is already facing supply bottleneck since the extension in PTC and ITC granted in December 2019. The Q1 production delays due to extended Chinese New Year Holidays as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will worsen the situation for the US developers who will be forced to look out for alternative sourcing avenues.

In the short term, the shock-waves from the Covid-19-sparked collapse in the price of crude have the potential to cause serial disruptions to the energy sector supply chains and prompted oil companies to retrench spending to protect existing oil & gas investments rather than commit capital to renewables.

This has led industry analysts to forecast significant fall-out for the until-now swiftly expanding clean-energy sectors, with the debate now revolving round only how damaging it will be.

n Europe, renewable energy developers and their supply chains have a put a brave — but realistic — face on the immediate impact of Covid-19.

Danish utility Orsted’s chief executive, Samuel Poulsen, assessed the utility’s development plans to be “on track so far” and Germany’s EnBW announced surging profits from renewables had carried it to meet earnings targets early, making it “rock solid” to weather the coronavirus storm.

Both, in the same breath, recognised there were “clear risks” down the road as the pandemic sweeps the globe.

Wind turbine makers have been showing themselves to be resilient, temporarily shutting down nacelle and blade plants for safety reviews, but with the sector overall seeing manufacturing levels running at 96% , according to advocacy body WindEurope.

And, based on early soundings of its membership, SolarPower Europe is sticking to its expectation that the PV build-out in the EU will not be derailed from reaching 35GW by 2023.

The likelihood that this broad regional market stability would be maintained was given a shot in the arm following a statement by 27 EU heads of government in which they jointly argued that Europe’s Green Deal and longer-term energy transition strategy should be dovetailed via a “co-ordinated” approach to Covid-19 emergency measures built around the “green transition and digital transformation”.

US looks gloomier

Things look much less rosy in the US, where the pandemic has placed more than half of the wind power sector’s 44GW short-term project pipeline – and some 35,000 jobs – at risk, according to the American Wind Energy Association, while, by mid-March, the pandemic was already “taking a toll” on US solar, according to Abigail Ross Hopper, chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association


In the biggest blow he’s dealt to the renewable energy industry yet, President Donald Trump decided on Monday to slap tariffs on imported solar panels.

The U.S. will impose duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made abroad, a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply. Just the mere threat of tariffs has shaken solar developers in recent months, with some hoarding panels and others stalling projects in anticipation of higher costs. The Solar Energy Industries Association has projected tens of thousands of job losses in a sector that employed 260,000.

The tariffs are just the latest action Trump has taken that undermine the economics of renewable energy. The administration has already decided to pull the U.S. out of the international Paris climate agreement, rolled back Obama-era regulations on power plant-emissions and passed sweeping tax reforms that constrained financing for solar and wind. The import taxes, however, will prove to be the most targeted strike on the industry yet.

“Developers may have to walk away from their projects,” Hugh Bromley, a New York-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in an interview before Trump’s decision. “Some rooftop solar companies may have to pull out” of some states.

U.S. panel maker First Solar Inc. jumped 9 percent to $75.20 in after-hours trading in New York. The Tempe, Arizona-based manufacturer stands to gain as costs for competing, foreign panels rise. First Solar didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The Solar Energy Industries Association also didn’t immediately respond.

The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells will be exempt from the tariffs, Trump said in a statement Monday. The president approved four years of tariffs that start at 30 percent in the first year and gradually drop to 15 percent.

The duties are lower than the 35 percent rate the U.S. International Trade Commission recommended in October after finding that imported panels were harming American manufacturers. The idea behind the tariffs is to raise the costs of cheap imports, particularly from Asia, and level the playing field for those who manufacture the parts domestically.

For Trump, they may represent a step toward making good on a campaign promise to get tough on the country that produces the most panels — China. Trump’s trade issues took a backseat in 2017 while the White House focused on tax reform, but it’s now coming back into the fore: The solar dispute is among several potential trade decisions that also involve washing machines, consumer electronics and steel.

“It’s the first opportunity the president has had to impose tariffs or any sort of trade restriction,” Clark Packard, a trade policy expert at the R Street Institute in Washington, said ahead of the decision. “He’s kind of pining for an opportunity.”

Trump’s solar decision comes almost nine months after Suniva Inc., a bankrupt U.S. module manufacturer with a Chinese majority owner, sought import duties on solar cells and panels. It asserted that it had suffered “ serious injury” from a flood of cheap panels produced in Asia. A month later, the U.S. unit of German manufacturer SolarWorld AG signed on as a co-petitioner, adding heft to Suniva’s cause.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Km7eFCl5ZQ

An attorney for Solarworld didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Suniva had sought import duties of 32 cents a watt for solar panels produced outside the U.S. and a floor price of 74 cents a watt.

While Trump has broad authority on the size, scope and duration of duties, the dispute may shift to a different venue. China and neighbors including South Korea may opt to challenge the decision at the World Trade Organization — which has rebuffed prior U.S.-imposed tariffs that appeared before it.

Lewis Leibowitz, a Washington-based trade lawyer, expects the matter will wind up with the WTO. “Nothing is very likely to stop the relief in its tracks,” he said before the decision. “It’s going to take a while.”

The solar industry may also attempt a long-shot appeal to Congress.

“Trump wants to show he’s tough on trade, so whatever duties or quotas he imposes will stick, whatever individual senators or congressmen might say,” Gary Hufbauer, a Washington-based senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said by email before the decision.


World’s Largest Floating Solar Power Plant Operational in China

China’s renewable energy trajectory took a leap forward with its floating solar power plant, the largest in the world getting operational recently. The power plant is located in the coal-rich city of Huainan in south Anhui province of China. The system is built by Sungrow Power Supply Co. Ltd., a global leading photovoltaic (PV) inverter systems supplier, and the 40MW plant has been effectively linked to China’s grid.

The system is designed to work in high humidity and salt spray environments. Renxian Cao, President of Sungrow said that they were committed to introducing cutting-edge technologies to products and offering better products and solutions to customers.

The floating solar power plants come with an array of advantages, as they don’t focus on using valuable land in already densely populated areas. The water acts as a natural coolant to the system and improves generation while limiting long-term heat induced degradation. The panels facilitate in conserving freshwater supplies by lowering the amount of evaporation. The Huainan floating solar power plant which is facilitated by a lake, was created by rain after the land surrounding it collapsed due to subsidence, a process which occurs due to intensive coal mining operations.

The plants are reportedly easy to work on and the size of the plant can be easily increased by shipping in a new batch of solar panels and connect them to the floating plant. Though, floating solar systems on water may reportedly face the challenge of rust. The systems need to be waterproof and resistant to seepage.World’s Largest Floating Solar Power Plant Operational in China

China is poised to becoming a world leader in the renewables domain and is committed to a greener and sustainable future. Despite the many challenges of pollution, China is actively adopting new systems revolving around renewable energy  sources.

Source: SolarPower.com Editorial Team