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Covid-19 weekly round-up: Predatory takeover fears, Ieefa takes aim at the IEA and diverse perspectives on e-mobility

  |   Solar, solar industry

Analysts appear divided on the effects the public health crisis will have on the EV market even as sales of petrol-engined SUVs soar in China. And Portugal is plowing on with its Covid-delayed national solar tender, an exercise which may help establish whether clean energy thinktank Ieefa is right to predict PV prices will continue to fall.

India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has followed the federal government’s lead by insisting on foresight of all proposed direct foreign investment into Covid-hit solar companies which comes from neighboring nations. There are fears companies in China and other nations could seek to take advantage of share prices battered by the industrial shutdown to launch bargain-basement takeovers.

U.S. thinktank the Institute for Energy Economics and Analysis (Ieefa) has disputed the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) forecast the Covid-19 crisis will slow the rate of solar panel cost reduction. Ieefa said ultra-low interest rates set by central banks around the world – in a bid to keep investment flowing during the pandemic – will help bear down solar project development costs further.

Danish electric vehicle car sharing service GreenMobility has resumed plans to launch in the Swedish cities of Malmö and Gothenburg. The company’s expansion was paused due to the Covid-19 crisis but is planned to take effect from Monday. GreenMobility already operates in the Danish cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, as well as in Oslo, Norway.

How to

Ron Wilson, VP of engineering at California-based electrical contractor Rosendin has told pv magazine USA how his company has coped during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Portuguese government on Monday opened its second national tender for large scale solar after having postponed the exercise for a second time in March because of the Covid-19 crisis. The 700 MW second round of the national program was originally planned for January before being pushed back. Developers have until July 31 to lodge bids.

The World Bank has financed an update to the free Powering Health online microgrid planning tool developed by the Homer Energy by UL division of U.S.-based safety certification company UL. The multilateral lender wanted to update the tool specifically to help developing countries improve power system capacity and reliability at health facilities tackling the spread of Covid-19.

Project sales

Chinese solar developer SFCE, which recently warned about the disruption Covid-19 was causing to its attempts to sell off PV projects to reduce its debt pile, has again postponed the release of details about a shareholder vote on the sale of six Chinese projects which would raise RMB469 million (US$66.4 million) for the business. Details of the vote, which should originally have been released by May 8, are now expected on or before June 30.

Monthly figures released by Chinese carmaker BYD on Friday painted a picture of a rebound in traditional vehicle sales as Covid-19 industrial shutdowns eased. Analysts in Europe expect a short-lived spike in conventional vehicle sales as lockdown restrictions are relaxed and the BYD figures have borne out that prediction as demand for gas-guzzling SUVs last month more than quadrupled on the figure reported a year earlier while sales of all electric vehicles more than halved during the same period.

Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator has noted strong solar rooftop figures for the first quarter and said large scale PV was holding steady despite Covid-19-related project delays. Orders remained strong through to May in the latest figures and the nation could still better last year’s record roll-out of 2.2 GW of solar, although the impact of the public health crisis on business may not be understood until this month’s figures eventually come to light, due to order backlogs which have now been whittled down.

Analyst Bridge to India has revised down its Indian solar forecast for this year, from 43 GW to 35 GW, as Covid-19 continues to grip the nation. The figure could include 15-20% falls in deployment of rooftop and open-access solar generation capacity, to 1.2 GW and 600 MW, respectively.

EV predictions

Analysts from South Asia Fast Track Sustainability Communications have told pv magazine India already-sluggish electric vehicle (EV) uptake in the nation is likely to be retarded further by the coronavirus crisis. Household spending is likely to tighten amid fears of an extended economic downturn, EV manufacturers are more susceptible to supply chain disruption than more commercially mature conventional auto companies and social distancing concerns may stifle EV demand for public transport use, the analysts said.

A survey by state PV body the New York Solar Energy Industries Association has found 63% of PV industry workers – 6,800 people – were laid off in the March-to-May period because of Covid-19. Some 23% of staff had seen their hours or pay docked by at least 80% and for 75% of respondents, that figure was at least 20%. Half the respondents expected to lose at least half of their revenue this year and 74% expected recovery would take at least a year.

Car lease comparison website LeaseFetcher has analyzed internet search engine terms to compile its Road to Recovery Dashboard for the U.K. car market, and says electric vehicles – especially premium models – are already experiencing a rebound in interest. The site said enquiries about the Audi e-Tron have already beaten pre Covid-19 levels and searches for Tesla’s Model S and Model X cars have equaled or beaten pre-crisis levels. Searches for the compact BMW i3 also recently returned to pre-Covid levels, according to LeaseFetcher.

Covid-19

Read pv magazine’s coverage of Covid-19 and tell us how it is affecting your solar and energy storage operations. Email editors@pv-magazine.com to share your experiences.