Coronavirus chill upends solar power industry
The booming rooftop solar panel industry nosedived overnight when the coronavirus forced homeowners to rein in spending and keep their distance from would-be installers. Now, in their struggle to survive, companies on both sides of the Atlantic are turning to online marketing rather than knocking on doors, using drones to inspect roofs, arranging digital permits and coming up with attractive new financing plans, according to interviews with 12 executives.
At stake is the future of a key driver of the global transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy: solar power was the second-fastest growing renewable source after wind in 2019, according to the International Energy Agency.
And rooftop installations, which generate electricity used by homes or businesses rather than feeding into the grid, made up more than 40% of the market before COVID-19 struck, according to Reuters.
Energy research firm Wood Mackenzie has slashed its rooftop solar installation forecasts for Europe and the United States by a whopping 30% this year, while lifting its forecast by 3% in Asia, where China provides strong government support.