The following is an excerpt from our Solar Project Finance Journal, a monthly electronic newsletter analyzing the solar industry’s latest trends based on our unique position in the solar financing space. To view the full Journal or subscribe, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The solar tariff dispute is leading to longer procurement times and altering module selection. Now, as developers build out their initial design specs with a specific module in mind, we are finding that as a project approaches NTP, the modules may become unavailable or too costly. In other words, both developers and investors are finding themselves compromising on module selection, or at least dealing with a scarcity of choices once it comes time to actually procure equipment for a given project.
Some developers we work with have kept their eyes out for module deals throughout the transaction process, and even after financial close, with the hope that another supplier can bring comparable modules into the U.S. market at a more affordable price. As a result, it is becoming increasingly common for developers to swap modules. Overall, investors are comfortable with this last minute module swap as long as the modules are solidly Tier 1 – or the investor has already provided a list of approved vendors. In one case, we made the decision to switch modules on a project rather than wait through a several-month delivery timeline, even though the swap required some redesign in order to accommodate the change. We do not encourage these module “swaps,” but we recognize that sometimes they may be necessary.
Another trend we are seeing is EPCs trying to lock in money from investors to pay for modules earlier. Whereas previously EPCs could enjoy cash-on-delivery terms or request extensions or more generous payment terms from module manufacturers, EPCs are now under immense pressure to pay for their existing orders as soon as possible – often before delivery – lest a supplier cancels their contract in the hope of charging a higher rate.
We do not see this module price bump leading to a long-term shortage, but for now, it is certainly impacting project development and forcing developers, EPCs, and investors alike to get creative.
About Sol Systems
Sol Systems is a renewable energy finance firm that provides secure, sustainable investment opportunities to investor clients, and sophisticated project financing solutions to developers. Founded in 2008, Sol Systems focuses on meeting the industry’s most critical solar financing needs, including tax structured investments, capital placement, debt financing, and SREC portfolio management. To date, the company has facilitated financing for thousands of distributed generation solar projects and hundreds of millions in investment on behalf of Fortune 100 corporations, utilities, banks, family offices, and individuals. For more information, please visit www.solsystemscompany.com.