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Solar Power Installations Slow Because Of Supply Chain, Other Issues: EIA

Solar power installations are running about 20 percent behind schedule due to supply chain and other issues, according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Developers had planned to install 17.8 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) generating capacity in 2022, according to the EIA’s June 2022 Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory. However, over the first six months of the year, only 4.2 GW of capacity came online, less than half of what the industry had planned to install, a 20 percent shortfall.

“Our preliminary data from January through June 2022 show that PV solar installations were delayed by an average of 4.4 GW each month, compared with average monthly delays of 2.6 GW during the same period last year,” according to the EIA. In most cases, the reported delays are for six months or less, the EIA added.

Most of the projects that are due to come online in the next 18 months are already under construction, the EIA noted.

About 1.9 GW of solar installations under construction have been delayed but are still scheduled to come online in 2022, and 1.7 GW of projects under construction have been delayed to 2023, the EIA said.

Various factors could cause delays, the EIA noted, including broad economic factors, such as supply chain constraints, labor shortages, and high prices of components, as well as factors specific to electric generation projects, such as obtaining permits or testing equipment.

In particular, the EIA noted that in February, the Bush administration eased but did not end tariffs on imported crystalline silicon solar products from China, raising the tariff-rate quota, or threshold for imposing higher tariffs, from 2.5 GW to 5.0 GW and excluding bifacial panels from the extended tariffs.

In April, the Department of Commerce announced an anti-dumping circumvention investigation of solar cells and modules imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, countries that allegedly use parts made in China that otherwise would be subject to tariffs.

In a June executive action, President Joseph Biden sought to advance the deployment of the U.S. solar panel industry by authorizing the easing of import duties for 24 months for solar cells and modules imported from the countries under investigation. Biden also invoked the Defense Production Act to expand domestic production of solar modules.