The covid-19 pandemic is delaying new commercial solar project development and construction. Across North America, many facilities powered by solar have reduced or zero occupancy. Oil prices went negative for the first time in history.
Energy managers watching all of this unfold wonder what these ripple effects mean for investments in renewables.
“Total installations this year might be tough compared to expectations three months ago, but I believe those are just going to be delayed a few months and will still get built,” says Jamie Hutson, VP of structured finance for the GE spinoff Distributed Solar Development, which develops solar projects for commercial, industrial, and municipal organizations.
Hutson observed that, in many jurisdictions, the professionals who would normally review commercial solar applications or issue permits aren’t in the office. Construction has generally slowed down rather than stopped, though, he said. Teams in the field are following local, CDC, and OSHA safety guidance, he added.
For energy managers, seasonal natural disasters could add a layer of risk on top of the pandemic.
Atlantic areas prone to hurricanes have already started preparing for the season to begin in June, which researchers anticipate will be above average this year. Meanwhile, Western states could still be dealing with the pandemic when the wildfire threat increases.
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