With 2020 righteously drawing to a close, we here at Greentech Media are taking a look back at all the news we covered.
It was a year unlike any other. In the solar industry, large-scale solar is expected to hit annual capacity records. At the same time, residential solar companies struggled to keep afloat during some of the worst months of the coronavirus pandemic. And with a new president headed for the White House, the clean energy industry is hoping to get a significant boost, though it weathered years of policy uncertainty under Trump while still installing significant volumes.
Here are some of the biggest themes and stories we covered in 2020 to give you a head start on 2021.
In the early days of the pandemic (remember those?), residential solar companies such as Sunnova described “herky-jerky” demand as the industry struggled to come to terms with the crisis.
After suffering waning demand, solar companies had to come up with innovative ways to boost sales. Many, particularly in the residential sector, turned to cut-rate deals.
President Trump’s most significant move on solar during his time in office was instituting Section 201 tariffs. President-elect Joe Biden may keep them around.
Tariffs have bifurcated the U.S. market, with U.S. manufacturers largely encouraging them and developers, while the industry’s largest trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, opposes them. In February, a midterm review of the tariffs’ impact showed the tariffs had encouraged module manufacturing in the U.S. but did not do the same for solar cells. Biden, who has pledged to boost U.S. manufacturing, faces a formidable task in boosting the domestic clean energy industry.
Amid a devastating pandemic that challenged the residential solar industry, the U.S.’ two largest players announced they were joining forces. The purchase grows Sunrun’s portfolio to half a million customers, accounting for a near 20 percent market share that significantly outranks any competitor. The acquisition closed in October.
In 2020, Real Goods Solar ended a long run in the industry, after evolving from a start with “hippies in the woods” to an IPO in 2008. A not-uncommon cautionary tale in the industry, the company was unable to balance growth with profit as it aged from its early years through the solar boom of the mid-2010s.
Capital Dynamics, an asset manager based in Switzerland, has become one of the most significant owners of large-scale solar projects in the United States. GTM dug into what the company sees in acquiring solar and storage assets as more investors crowd the space.