April 1 (Renewables Now) - Spain’s photovoltaic (PV) industry will survive the strict two-week COVID-19 lockdown imposed on Monday on all non-essential activity, because all advantages of solar will still be there once the ban is lifted.
This is the general sentiment expressed by three local PV business leaders who participated yesterday in the first in a series of online solar talks organised by Spanish PV association UNEF.
The webinar, aptly named Solar Dialogues From Home, hosted representatives from PV inverter maker Ingeteam, solar self-consumption specialist Powen and EPC contractor Grupo Gransolar (GRS), who all had to freeze their field or factory work until April 10 under the new government rules.
But the brake is only temporary and the industry will bounce back, the trio agreed, saying that the lockdown will delay the supply of components and affect construction timetables. None of them expect prices in the PV business to be affected significantly.
Juan Carlos Jadraque, Ingeteam’s PV director, highlighted that supply contracts are made in the long and medium-term -- timetables may be derailed, but not prices.
Those in the Spanish self-consumption segment will have it harder to adapt to the post-COVID-19 economy since measuring rooftops and installing solar panels is less likely to be the consumers’ first impulse after the lockdown.
Powen CEO Jose Benjumea recognises that there will be an impact, but is nevertheless optimistic about the prospects of his business. He said the advantage of self-consumption is that the installation can be mounted without up-front investments on the part of the customer. If the government were to incentivise the installations further with a dedicated tax regime, the self-consumption business will have a way out of this crisis.
Jordi Vega, the director of construction for GRS, which builds medium-sized solar plants, said these kind of projects have strong financing behind them and are covered with force majeure clauses. He believes that his customers should count on support from banks and the government and should not be penalised for delaying the plant commissioning or other commitments.