November 2, 2021

Brighter days? Solar sector’s economic element remains unstable as year-end nears

By Brett Johnson, ROI-NJ

The sun always rises for the solar industry. Problems tend to arise just as unfailingly.

Even as it celebrated a change that reduced some of the uncertainty in the local industry, Thomas Loredo, managing director at Mount Laurel-based Nessel Energy, said that, toward the end of this year, the economics of solar installations have been thrown into flux once more.

In short, the numbers for those selling solar just aren’t adding up.

“There’s a big headwind in the industry right now: Getting the financial returns to pencil,” he said. “There’s a lot more pressure on returns as a result of trends during COVID, such as steel prices going way up.”

Despite solar energy’s constant proliferation in the state, and the course the state’s Energy Master Plan set for solar to provide 34% of electricity in New Jersey by 2050, those in the industry seem to be able to list off more of those headwinds than tailwinds.

One of Loredo’s top complaints is the new uncertainty introduced by a Department of Commerce report in September indicating there could be increased scrutiny on the sector, including reviews of solar cells and modules imported from Asia to catch any circumventing of antidumping and countervailing duties.

Loredo explained that would have a major effect on the supply chain for those reliant on manufacturing plants in places like Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.

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