Covid-19 has exposed the vulnerability of energy value chains but solar power could be an indigenous solution to keep the lights on during a crisis.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has impacted the life of hundreds of millions in many countries. It has also severely disrupted the value chains of global businesses. The renewable energy sector is not immune to the virus, and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are particularly vulnerable.
|Solar power could become a key element of making communities resilient to crises such as pandemics. Photo: Sebastien Gabriel|
The pandemic has exposed weaknesses in the solar energy value chain in Asia and the Pacific. But there are ways to strengthen it so the region's low-carbon energy transition can continue. First, on the hardware side, while developing countries are deploying solar energy as part of their low carbon transition strategy, they should also consider developing local manufacturing capacity and engaging with the solar PV industry value chain. The value chain involves extraction of raw silicon, production of silicon wafers and ingots, solar cells, PV modules, inverters, as well as mounting and tracking systems and electrical components. Secondly, in addition to manufacturing capacity, the solar value chain also involves technical services such as design, engineering, installation, and operations and maintenance. In this regard, a serious skills gap exists in many developing countries in Asia and the Pacific, making them dependent on foreign consultants and contractors to implement projects. Again, unless developing countries can design, install, operate, and maintain their own solar PV systems, their solar energy systems will not be sustainable. * Yongping Zhai is Chief of Energy Sector Group, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, ADB.
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