The Financial Times reported that according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, solar-capacity installations were down 33 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of last year, at 2.5 gigawatts. The slowdown has continued into 2022.
The sector has been hit hard by a supply crunch, soaring commodity prices, tariffs, and trade restrictions imposed by President Joe Biden’s administration on panels and other equipment from the Xinjiang area of China. This is a major stumbling block within the sector’s supply chain.
The cost of large-scale solar projects was up 18 percent last year. This breaks a long string of significant price declines. More than 10 percent of projects due to go online this year have been delayed or canceled because of sector problems, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a lobby group representing the industry.
The solar industry wants Congress to approve long-term tax credits to solar projects and support domestic production of solar equipment in order to lessen its dependence on China. Biden's social-expenditure bill, which is filled with lots of money for “green energy,” would have done this. However, the legislation passed by the House has been relegated to the Senate.
Abigail Ross Hopper, president of SEIA, stated in the Financial Times article, “It's an industry that is growing.” It also needs to grow at four times its current pace in order to reach climate targets, she stated.
Hopper contended that a difficult trade environment, broken supply chains, and failure to pass legislation are slowing down what could have been a huge success story.
An executive from a solar company told the Financial Times that Congress should not reopen shuttered oil and gas pipelines in the United States, returning the country to the energy independence enjoyed under President Donald Trump’s administration. Instead, Congress should use the current energy crisis, which was started by Biden and made worse by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, to promote green energy.
Hopper stated that “we cannot rely on hostile countries that don't have the best interests of our country in mind.” Instead, she suggested that the United States must invest in a variety of energy resources, with solar and storage being the best options to provide clean, reliable, and local energy for the country.