Debt financing, main obstacle to PV during the Covid-19 crisis – pv magazine International

Industry body SolarPower Europe hosted a webinar to examine how the global public health crisis will affect solar power. While workers and materials are still available, industry experts are concerned about the state of the financial sector. Banks could become more conservative and raise the cost of capital for renewable energy projects.

With Europe in Covid-19 lockdown, speculation about the outlook for various industries is rife and solar is no exception. The professional body SolarPower Europe gathered this morning commentators from the Green Power division of the Italian energy company Enel; British renewable energy developer Solarcentury; and Spanish and Italian industrial organizations to discuss the ongoing crisis in a webinar.

Aristotelis Chantavas, European manager of Enel Green Power, and Susannah Wood, marketing director of Solarcentury, both said the pandemic would delay projects, rather than cause them to be cancelled.

Wood cited a project Solarcentury is setting up in the Netherlands where she said it was possible to maintain social distancing rules at large-scale solar sites, given the size of the projects. It became apparent that having a local workforce was crucial, with Dutch staff continuing on the Solarcentury project while staff from further afield working for a German company on site could not reach the site.

Stationery

A panel also including representatives from Spanish photovoltaic association Unef and Italian renewable energy body Elettricità Futura were not concerned about supply shortages of inverters and other project components now that production has resumed in November. China.

Along with workers and materials available, it was funding that was identified as a critical impediment to rolling out the project. “Access to debt financing has become more complicated, which perhaps says more about the health of the banks than the health of the solar sector,” Wood said.

Unef Director General José Donoso said: “Access to financial services will be worse in the coming times as banks become more conservative.” The industry spokesman predicted that Spain will see 2 GW of new solar generation capacity this year, as large-scale projects continue even though the market for small installations is at a standstill.

Alessio Cipullo, head of European affairs and studies at Elettricità Futura, spoke about the concern for the potential reduction solar energy. The reduction in economic activity in Italy would have led to a drop in electricity demand 22% introducing the potential for wasteful renewable electricity, although Cipullo said favorable weather conditions in recent weeks had seen Italian renewables companies produce and sell large volumes of energy.

Energy prices

In fact, Donoso said, it’s fossil fuel power plants that have been hit by the reduction in Spain over the past four weeks, with average electricity prices plunging to €32/MWhwell below the figure seen at this time last year.

Chantavas from Enel Green Power said: “This crisis shows that it is important to have local production of everything, including energy, and this is where renewables can come in.

Unsurprisingly, representatives of developers and members repeated their calls to simplify permitting procedures for renewable energy projects, saying red tape made banks even less willing to finance such assets. Donoso suggested that new tax incentives, such as VAT reductions for self-consumption solar projects, could help keep the clean energy sector on a balanced keel.

Chantavas suggested that the EU Green Deal for Europe could be used to reduce permit requirements and solve funding problems.

Covid-19

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