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The 2020 Solar Module Roller Coaster Ride

The most recent count from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Monthly Solar Photovoltaic Module Shipments Report proved a sluggish start in January 2020 for the solar industry, followed by a steep incline of shipments in March. The burst of the most impressive numbers ever of solar modules shipped was in March, with manufacturers shipping approximated 2.05 gigawatts of PV modules that month.

Solar Panel and Sky at Disney World Solar Power Plant, by Cynthia Shahan, CleanTechnica.

The most recent count from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Monthly Solar Photovoltaic Module Shipments Report proved a sluggish start in January 2020 for the solar industry, followed by a steep incline of shipments in March. The burst of the most impressive numbers ever of solar modules shipped was in March, with manufacturers shipping approximately 2.05 gigawatts of PV modules that month.

The next surging change was due to an insidious virus, manifesting Covid-19 in humans. April shipments diminished significantly as the economy ground to a halt. April shipments slid down quickly, dropping almost 50% from March’s 2.05 gigawatts (GW) to 1.24 GW, the lowest monthly total since November 2019. Take a look, though — the positive news is the change brought a bright moment for some thanks to lower solar module prices. While shipments slowed, the cost per watt peak reached a record low or $0.37, one cent lower than the previous record low of June 2019.

The solar year continues

The solar module price per watt in previous years already showed a shift toward the lowest cost per watt in the history, but it took a steep drop down in March and stayed there in April. Such a significant drop — $0.09 — hadn’t occurred since March to April of 2017, when the average solar module price fell from $0.66 to $0.42 per watt.

The hit from Covid-19 tags onto a big reduction in US solar subsidies, which hit in January 2020, pv magazine reports. “In terms of the ITC, projects were able to quality for the full 30% ITC if they started physical work by the end of 2019, while developers were able to lock in the 30% ITC through a safe harbor provision, by paying for 5% or more of the cost of a project. Considering that modules represent more than 5% of total project costs, securing modules was a safe way to ensure the full ITC.”

The leading state was, as usual, California — by a wide margin. “In March, California led the way with 693 MW of modules shipped, followed by Tennessee, which shipped 144 MW. Rounding out the top five for March comes Massachusetts with 128 MW, Texas with 108 MW, and New Jersey with 99 MW.

“In April, the leaders were California with 418 MW, Massachusetts with 102 MW, Tennessee with 74 MW, Florida with 48 MW, and Idaho with 40 MW. It should be noted that the April shipment data for Texas has been withheld thus far.”

 
 
 
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Written By

Cynthia Shahan started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. (Several unrelated publications) She is a licensed health care provider. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education, mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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