Winning Solar PV Independent Power Producers May Face a Shortage of Panels

Many international solar panel manufactures down scaled their supply operations in South Africa over the previous 2 ½ years as a result of the lengthy stand-off between Eskom and Independent Power Producers. The long delayed 27 renewable energy projects were finally signed off this week by new Energy Minister, Mr Jeff Radebe. Twelve of the projects are for solar PV farms. Collectively the twelve projects total 813 Megawatts. This translates to an immediate demand for a mind boggling 2.54 million solar panels (320watt). The question is – is there stock available?

In the last 6 months, global delivery lead times from some of the top solar panel manufacturers have been stretched from 6 weeks to up to 4 months. This has largely been due to a 30% import tariff on solar panels introduced by Donald Trump in the USA. The tariffs, which came into effect on 22nd January 2018, caused a run on solar PV panels in that country. Many resellers stockpiled and placed advanced orders before the 30 % import tariff was implemented. As a result there is a global backlog on orders.

Wenqi Guo, Business Manager for Risen Energy, a listed Tier 1 solar panel manufacturer in Shenzhen China, confirms that there is a problem with delivery lead times globally but adds that this presents an opportunity for new panel suppliers to enter the South African market if there is a problem with supply locally.

Risen Energy has mainly serviced the Chinese and European markets. As a result they have not been affected by the back orders in the USA. Guo says that they are able to offer 6 to 8 week lead times to Independent Power Producers who were recently awarded Power Purchase Agreements for solar PV plants in South Africa. Risen Energy specialises in utility scale supply from 1Megawatt upwards. The high performance panels are competitively priced and come with 12 year factory warranty.

Now that the 12 solar PV projects have been given the green light by Eskom, we can expect the winning IPP’s to actively be engaging with their component supplier value chain and EPC’s to find increased value in their projects through pricing and supply. When it comes to solar PV panels, the jostling may see new entrants like Risen Energy make a statement in the market purely on competitive delivery lead times.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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