Report: Solar’s supply chain disaster threatens 56% of global utility projects in 2022

More than half of the global utility solar projects planned for 2022 could be delayed or canceled due to a worsening supply chain, according to a new analysis.

Rystad Energy estimates that 56% of projects — or 90 gigawatts of solar capacity — are threatened by commodity price inflation and supply chain bottlenecks. Costs for solar PV modules “have surged from below $0.20 per watt peak (Wp) in 2020 to between $0.26 and $0.28 per Wp in the second half of 2021 – a near 50% increase in a year,” the report notes.

A 300% increase in the cost of polysilicon is driving the module cost surge, while the costs of raw materials have also rapidly increased since the beginning of last year.

“The utility solar industry is facing one of its toughest challenges just days ahead of COP26,” Rystad Energy senior renewables analyst David Dixon said. “The current bottlenecks are not expected to be relieved within the next 12 months, meaning developers and offtakers will have to decide whether to reduce their margins, delay projects or increase offtake prices to get projects to financial close.”

Rystad Energy analysis found that the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for new projects has increased 10-15% when comparing last year’s module and shipping costs with current project costs.

U.S. solar panel imports, meanwhile, declined 27% in the third quarter of 2021, the largest quarterly decline since 2018, amid supply chain pressures and the proposed expansion of tariffs.

Analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence found that the drop in imports from Q2 to Q3 2021 represented the largest quarterly drop since the beginning of 2018, when project developers preempted tariffs on the industry from then-President Donald Trump.

On Monday, the Solar Energy Industries Association sent a letter to U.S. Dept. of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to “refute the credibility” of the anonymous petition for circumvention tariffs on solar imports from Southeast Asia.