Australian solar panel manufacturer Tindo Solar says the global panel supply crunch has led to an “overwhelming number of inquiries” from increasingly desperate local installers, amid warnings imports could completely dry up over the Australian summer, causing projects to get cancelled.
The Adelaide-based company has started releasing 1,000 extra solar panels into Australia’s wholesale networks to help companies facing the prospect of cancelling their pre-Christmas installs because they couldn’t access China-sourced panels.
“I’ve had installers almost in tears saying ‘mate, I just can’t get any panels’,” Tindo Solar CEO Shayne Jaenisch told RenewEconomy on Wednesday. “Others have said I’ve had switch from this brand of panel to another [lower quality] brand.”
Australia’s solar industry is being buffeted by a string of different PV panel price and supply problems, stemming from global shortages of raw materials such as polysilicon, glass and silver, and exacerbated by soaring shipping costs and, most recently, a power crisis in China.
As RenewEconomy has reported, this has caused manufacturing costs of solar PV modules to surge from $US0.20 per watt peak (Wp) in 2020 to between $US0.26 and $US0.28 per Wp in the second half of 2021 – the highest levels since 2017.
And that puts many solar industry players in the unenviable position of deciding whether to reduce their margins, delay projects or increase prices.
It is having a big impact on large scale solar projects, with the industry rife with rumours of major delays because of the delays in module delivers.
The impact has even started to show on the rate of rooftop solar installs in the country, with recent SunWiz data showing an 11.1 per cent drop in installations between September and October marking the lowest volume since mid-way through last year.
Jaenisch, whose company has held a niche position in Australia’s market as the only local panel manufacturer, said that since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, he has gone from having five new inquiries from retailers a month, to five a week.
And since wholesalers flagged stock supply issues just over a month ago, it’s now jumped to 10 a week.
“We’ve been fielding calls for more than a month, with solar installation companies desperate for panels,” said Jaenisch on Wednesday.
“Not only are they faced with not enough panels to fulfil their installations, but the panels they can buy are 30 to 50 per cent more expensive than they were mid-year.
“Because we’re Australia’s only manufacturer, the industry is turning to us for stock,” Jaenisch added. “To assist with the overwhelming number of inquiries we have decided to release small amounts of stock to help alleviate the current market short fall.”
To read the full story on One Step Off The Grid sister site, RenewEconomy, click here...