India’s clean energy development faces delays due to COVID-19 lockdown


A new report from global industry analysts Wood Mackenzie projects that India could face delayed wind and solar installations of over 21.6%, or 3GW, as a result of the country’s lockdown.

According to Wood Mackenzie principal analyst Robert Liew, “The timing of the lockdown is unfortunate as Q1 is typically one of the busiest periods for wind project installations. The lockdown will delay some projects until summer, and if the lockdown is extended past April, wind farm construction could be further delayed into the monsoon season, where wind installations are typically at their lowest.” 

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With over 3GW of wind projects under construction scheduled for 2020 completion, supply and labour disruptions from the current lockdown could delay 400MW into 2021, equating to a downgrade of 11% for 2020.

Similar to the wind sector, India’s solar PV installations are expected to be hit hard as the industry is heavily dependent on Chinese PV module imports (80% of total volume) which has been disrupted due to the coronavirus.

Senior analyst Rishab Shrestha said: “Current supply and labour disruptions will have an outsized negative impact on 2020 installations. Q1 is expected to be strongly impacted with a potential 60% year-on-year quarterly downgrade, or 1.2 GW, down from about 3 GW in Q1 2019.

“We remain cautious on the outlook for the second half of the year as supply and logistics bottlenecks linger. Consequently, our full year downgrade stands at 2.9 GW, a 24.8% reduction resulting in a revised 2020 outlook of 8.9 GW of solar PV installations.”

Unfortunately, the Indian states with the highest coronavirus infection rates also correspond with the areas that are favourable to wind and solar development.

The state of Gujarat delivered 58% or 1.4 GW of new added wind capacity in India in 2019, and unfortunately, stands as one of the top ten worst-hit states in terms of coronavirus infections.

On the solar front, the states of Karnataka (2.0 GW), Tamil Nadu (1.6 GW) and Rajasthan (1.7 GW) were the top three states accounting for 55% of solar PV installations in 2019. All of which are in the top ten worst-hit states.

Both analysts agree that current support measures by the government to mitigate the downturn are warranted, but if the virus situation continues to escalate and the lockdown is extended, there will be severe financial impacts on utility companies. Consequently, solar PV and wind installation developers’ cash flows will also be affected, and corporate bank loans for new project development could slow to a trickle.

Utilities in the power and energy sector have had to rapidly implement coping mechanisms and strategies to protect staff, customers and their bottom line.

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