As we rush to December 2016, the Solar Power International rumor mill was abuzz with gossip surrounding equipment shortages and whether manufacturers will be able to keep up with the demand for their products. For those of you who were around for the 1603 rush, you may be experiencing a familiar déjà vu feeling.
Major brand Tier 1 crystalline silicon and thin film module manufacturers are nearly entirely allocated for 2016. Tracker availability is dwindling and unavailable for at least the first half of 2016. Interconnection equipment such as GSU’s and reclosers will be in high demand, and the long lead time will only add to the execution risk.
“Although equipment availability is already facing constraints, there will be some notion of a first-come first-serve basis,” said Joe Song, Senior Director of Investments at Sol Systems. “Those who close on their projects and execute security deposits may still be able to procure their preferred equipment.” Or, as others put it at SPI, rumor has it that some shortages disappear when you pay cash.
Moreover, much of the locked-in equipment supply is from large projects which may not reach the finish line. If that’s the case, allocations may open up.
Take note of how different manufacturers handle shortages. Some may be transparent with their timelines, and others may inadvertently (or not) make promises they cannot keep. If you make a deposit, just remember that there are still some unknowns in regards to timing, and plan accordingly for delays.
This is an excerpt from our September edition of SOURCE: the Sol 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.
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