Covid-19 weekly round-up: Updates shed light on tough second quarter for solar industry firms


U.S. microinverter company Enphase Energy laid out the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on trading during a second quarter which saw revenue down 39% on a strong first three months of the year, for a net loss of US$47.3 million. The company said it had observed a rebound in demand in June and last month, and was closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. The polysilicon business of German chemicals company Wacker Chemie also suffered in the second quarter, with the virus driving a 17% quarterly fall in sales for a gross loss of €35 million (US$41.6 million) for the three months.

Norwegian polysilicon manufacturer REC Silicon ASA – which has manufacturing sites chiefly in the U.S. – said the failure to implement the Phase I Trade Agreement agreed between the U.S. and China in January means it has no immediate prospect of reopening its solar-grade polysilicon plant in Moses Lake, Washington. The trade deal was never implemented because of the onset of Covid-19 in the U.S. and the subsequent disintegration of relations between the White House and Beijing. REC revealed, in its second-quarter figures, it had taken out a US$8.3 million coronavirus relief loan from the U.S. government which obliges it to maintain headcount and salary levels or repay the sum.

European recovery

Israeli inverter and energy storage business Solaredge has reported sales have returned to pre-Covid-19 levels in Europe and even bettered pre-pandemic figures in some countries. Posting positive second-quarter figures, the company also said it saw signs of a recovery in the U.S.

Mercom India Research has reported the value of solar imports to the country during the second quarter of the year slumped by 84% on the figure reported for the same period of last year, from US$399 million to US$69 million, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

Chinese solar glass company Xinyi Glass has revealed, although Covid-19 affected processing services for its products and delayed solar project development for its generation business, the manufacturer kept its glass furnaces operating 24-hours-a-day during the first half, including during the first three months of the year, when the coronavirus was ravaging the nation.

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Developer set to go west

An executive at solar project engineering, procurement and construction services provider Sterling and Wilson has talked to pv magazine India about how Covid-19 has affected the business and how the company is intent on targeting new markets which are easing coronavirus measures, including Europe.

State-owned China Energy Engineering Corp Ltd blamed Covid-19 “pandemic control and prevention measures” during the first quarter for project delays which have led to a year-on-year fall in net first-half profits to an anticipated RMB750-1,300 million (US$108-187 million) this year.

Bailed-out Chinese solar developer SFSY has admitted it is still being affected by the Covid-19 crisis even as it reported “the group’s operations have started to normalize” to the extent it anticipates a gross profit for the first half of the year, following its HK$1.55 billion (US$200 million) bail-out by a division of state-owned construction giant Shuifa Group in November.

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