The sun sets on solar energy supply just as Earth needs it most


The sun sets on solar energy supply just as Earth needs it most

With rising prices and a worsening trade war, the sector can’t expand as quickly or cheaply as consumers want

Dan Murtaugh and Maxwell Adler

Cracks are emerging in the global solar industry, threatening to flatten its growth trajectory, just as the world needs clean power more than ever.

The sector is being slammed by a barrage of obstacles, with rising materials costs, forced labour accusations and a worsening trade war all hitting at once. As a result, panel prices are rising for the first time in years, and some manufacturers have asked buyers to delay purchases if they can. And though annual installations are still ticking higher, Wall Street warns the pace of expansion may slow sharply if those hurdles continue unchecked. 

“The shocks to the system in the last two to three months are more or less unprecedented,” said Jenny Chase, an analyst with BloombergNEF. “We need to get to net zero as soon as possible, and to do that we just need so much solar and wind. We’re not on track; we need to ramp this up dramatically.”..

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