Solar Energy

The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the global PV supply chain?

Covid’s impact on the global PV supply chain decreased by Q3 2020. By July, the price declines caused by the pandemic were less pronounced compared to the previous quarter. Nevertheless, the module supply chain was far from static. Investors, developers, EPCs, and integrators have been focused on getting projects started, equipment purchased and delivered, and then projects completed.

“If the problem can be solved, why worry? If the problem cannot be solved, worrying will do you no good.”


Major incidents triggered a domino effect on the supply chain, causing significant upstream price increases starting in August. Mono-grade polysilicon prices increased by 56% quarter-over-quarter. Mono wafer prices jumped by more than 20% during the same period, while multi wafer prices increased for the first time in more than two years due to supply shortage. Mono PERC cell prices also went up by about one cent.



However, global average prices for multi and mono modules increased less rapidly relative to the upstream supply chain for two reasons: the declining share of silicon costs in total module production and the lower sellers’ margin. As a result, global module prices still managed to decline compared to the previous quarter.


In the U.S., multi-silicon module prices were around $0.19/W in Q3 2020. Mono PERC module prices dropped meaningfully from $0.39/W in Q2 to $0.34/W in Q3 for utility-scale projects. Bifacial modules continued to enjoy the Section 201 tariff exemption in Q3. The office of the US Trade Representative announced its decision to reimpose the tariff in April. However, the US Court of International Trade sustained a preliminary injunction to block the tariff throughout Q3.

Without the tariff, the pricing of bifacial modules was, on average, competitive with mono-facial modules in the quarter. In October, President Trump issued a proclamation that revoked the bifacial exclusion and increased the year four tariffs from 15 to 18%. On 19 November 2020, the US Court of International Trade declined to apply the Preliminary Injunction to the procedural grounds’ October proclamation. This paved the way for Customs to collect tariffs on bifacial modules barring a separate injunction.

To read my article in the North American Clean Energy for March/April issue go to the following link. You will find the article on page 14: North American Clean Energy March/April 2021 Issue by North American Clean Energy – Issuu

If you want a video look at the expected growth of 2019/2020 based on an interview in SPI 2019 go to this link:

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