When the coronavirus hit China late last year, America’s solar industry immediately started worrying about manufacturing. Asia is the main source of panels and other equipment, and with residential installers anticipating a bumper year, a bottleneck in the supply chain could be a major hindrance.
Turns out the industry’s biggest 2020 quandary is very different: dwindling demand.
Many homeowners aren’t exactly in the mood these days to have panels or panel-installers on their roofs — even some who had already agreed to buy or lease them. Analysts are now predicting residential installations could tumble this year, which would be a big setback for a sector that’s key to fighting climate change and that’s been on the verge of transitioning from niche in many markets to neighborhood mainstay.
“When the virus first hit, everybody was like, ‘Oh, my God, Chinese manufacturing,’” says Tara Narayanan, a solar analyst at BloombergNEF. “Now the question is: Will global demand collapse?”
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