The most recent financial crisis has shown just how valuable public policies can be when it comes to creating a safe and prosperous environment for business. Since the start of this year, the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have prevented many companies from operating as usual, while also demanding organizations change the way they do business. Many countries and industries have been affected by the pandemic, but one sector that has been especially hard-hit is the solar energy industry. The demand for solar power has significantly declined, with many businesses closing down or operating on a smaller scale due to safety concerns and a lack of buyers. In the face of such adversity, it is crucial that those in the industry continue to operate with as much efficiency as possible.
Policies to Support a Strong and Sustained Industry
To stay strong in the face of the pandemic, the solar energy industry has had to make a number of crucial changes. Not only have they had to adjust to working remotely, but they have also had to update their production processes to ensure safety and efficiency. As a result of these changes, the industry has seen a huge decline in installations and overall demand. Companies that adapted quickly to working remotely while also supporting a strong environment for their employees are now in a better position to bounce back and emerge from the crisis stronger than ever.
It is essential that the industry continues to be supported by sound policies that encourage investment and innovation. To achieve this, those in authority must continue to put the interests of the people before the financial concerns of businesses.
Here are some of the important policies that the solar energy industry needs to thrive.
1. Financial Support
During the pandemic, governments around the world have provided businesses and individuals with financial support to help them through the tough times. In some countries, this has meant providing businesses with loan forgiveness or interest-free loans to keep them afloat during the pandemic.
Since the solar energy industry is a heavily regulated one, businesses that generate their own power are able to access generous government support to cover a portion of their costs. These companies can apply for government grants and loans to help finance their operations. The European Commission has also increased its support for solar projects, including a grant program focused on renewable energy.
To strengthen the industry and take it to the next level, the financial support must be there. Without the appropriate government policy in place to encourage and support investment in renewable energy, the industry will continue to decline during the pandemic. In some countries, like Germany, financial incentives offered by the government have helped to fuel an increase in renewable energy use and contributed to the overall stability of the grid.
The industry needs a combination of public and private funding in order to continue its development. While governments provide the safety net, the private sector offers the innovation and the incentives to drive the industry forward.
Another significant change that the solar energy industry has had to make is to adapt to a more streamlined process in the face of declining demand. Since many businesses in the industry are SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) that rely on a small number of employees, the industry has been forced to become more efficient in terms of operations. They have also had to adjust to working remotely, meaning that they are now reliant on internal processes, communications and documentation.
One area that has been affected by this is project management. As demand has declined, a lot of the work that used to be carried out by in-house project managers has moved to third-party providers, resulting in a leaner and more efficient operation overall. The use of project management software has also become commonplace, resulting in even more streamlined project delivery.
3. Research & Development
The need for high-quality research and development (R&D) has never been more important in the solar energy industry. As businesses have had to cut back on unnecessary expenditure during the pandemic, they have also had to tighten their belts when it comes to investing in new technology and research projects. As a result of this, the industry has been unable to keep up with some of the advancements made in other industries, such as AI (artificial intelligence) and block chain technology.
Some of the projects that have been put on hold include new product development and large-scale feasibility studies. While these projects offer significant benefits, they require a large amount of time and money to get going. Since so much of the work has been halted in the industry, researchers and developers have had to step back and reconsider their priorities, resulting in more focus on projects that can be completed faster and with less financial investment.
The industry needs to continue to grow and need to develop new products and services in parallel in order to stay competitive. New product development, whether it’s an entirely new product or an updated version of an existing one, requires a lot of resources, and these resources are best utilized where they can offer the most benefit. Companies that invest in R&D have the opportunity to improve their products and services and create new markets, which can help to drive demand and growth in the industry as a whole.
4. Security & Safety
Since the pandemic began, there has been a heightened focus on safety and security in all industries. The need to ensure that employees and contractors can work safely and securely has been made all the more important in the solar energy industry. The rise of cybercrime and the continued threats posed by hackers and cybercriminals have underlined the need for increased security measures and better information technology (IT) controls.
To reduce its exposure to cyberattacks, the industry has had to take strong security measures, including the use of military-grade hardware and software to protect themselves against modern-day hackers. The use of multifactor authentication via dedicated phone lines or SMS (short message service) is also commonplace.
The industry also needs to take steps to ensure that they are compliant with local safety regulations. Some countries, like China, have implemented severe restrictions on the generation and use of clean energy during the pandemic. Other countries, like Germany, have taken a more relaxed approach, but have still implemented safety measures to protect the grid as a whole. Ensuring that your business is following all relevant safety and security regulations is critical if you want to continue operating during this time.
Productivity has been impacted in all industries during the pandemic, but the solar energy industry has seen a particularly significant decline in the number of hours worked per employee. The industry needs to regain its market share and ensure that its employees return to work as quickly as possible.
To achieve this, organizations in the industry need to take a business-as-usual approach and ensure that they do not make any unnecessary changes that could hinder their operations. The most efficient and effective way of regaining market share while continuing to operate on a smaller scale is by adopting sustainable and streamlined business practices. These practices ensure that the business can operate successfully during the pandemic and continue to meet the demands of current and future customers.
The demand for solar power will be significantly lower for a while as we adjust to life under quarantine. However, as the industry works its way out of its current slump, businesses that continue to operate in a sustainable manner will be in a stronger position to meet the demand that currently does exist and continue to grow.