Covid-19 has brought a shock to the world, affecting every country and industry one way or another.

Are investors shifting to the ‘safe haven’ of long-term renewable projects, or holding off due to general market sentiment? Do digital tools allow us to work as usual, or do travel restrictions/supply chain issues hinder projects? Will we be ‘back to normal’ in H2?

At Positive Energy, we see continuous activity in renewable projects and investments. We decided to run a survey across the renewable energy industry in Asia.

Key conclusions

  • Activity remains similar for 50% of the industry. This solidifies renewables’ long term potential and its position as safe haven investment, though it’s still exposed.
  • H2 2020 activity recovery expected by most of the industry, especially utilities, IPPs and EPCs.
  • Temporary/operational issues are leading impacts, such as travel restrictions, work from home, supply chain issues. Limited structural issues, such as capital market or power demand problems experienced.
  • Digitisation permanently will change the way the industry works
  • Positive Energy recognised for continuous business potential

We’ve surveyed a representative group of investors, developers, EPCs and other companies active in Asia’s renewable energy landscape, studying three topics:

  • Immediate and near-term impact
  • Causes of and solutions to such impacts
  • Role of digitisation

What’s today’s impact?

Surprisingly, only half of the respondents is seeing a decrease in activity, with the other half sees activities roughly at the same level. Projects already initiated have mostly continued with funding still ongoing. Renewable energy projects are based on long-term projects and the world continues to need energy.

The relative continuity of the business is not universal; in India, 80% of the respondents sees a significant decrease in business activity. Though renewable energy is deemed an essential industry, the strict lockdown and general uncertainty have all but halted activities in what is the world’s 4th biggest country for Solar. South-East Asia sees a similar though less profound decrease with 70% seeing a significant decrease in activity.

South-East Asia’s financial hub Singapore shows an opposite response – only 30% of the respondents sees a decrease in activity. This could be a result of Singapore’s internal market, which saw government fiscal stimulus, or presence of multinational companies with a more resilient portfolio.

Will we recover this year?

Looking forward, the industry is moderately positive about a recovery; about 60% of the respondents expects activities to pick up again in the second half year.

Again, this optimism is not universal. Within the larger industry players such as utilities, IPPs, developers and energy companies, 80% expect the second half year to improve, whilst 60% of the developers has negative expectations for the second half year.

This could be explained by the phasing of both problems as well as recovery; for example, EPCs might expect a swift return on their existing contracts once travel/supply restrictions are lifted, whereas developers might see a prolonged slowdown in new projects.

What’s driving the impact?

Respondents ranked the following items in order of impact: travel restrictions; working from home; supply chain problems; projects on hold; investors on hold; higher interest/lower credit; lower power demand; no impact.

It can be of no surprise that less than 5% ranks ‘no impact’ first, though as a business we are keen to work close with them!

An encouraging sign is the nature of the impact; 51% ranks current restrictions (travel, work from home, supply chain) as first impact. Though obviously disruptive to the business, these are temporary and operationally in nature which could be lifted quickly or, even in a more pessimistic view, could be dealt with using different working methods.

A smaller though still significant share (37%) of the respondents experiences an impact to their project, either on the project itself (put on hold by offtaker/government) or on the investor side.

We’ve claimed earlier in this article that fundamentals for renewable energy remain strong. Indeed only 9% of the respondents states structural market issue, either on investor or power demand, as leading impact to their business.

Digitisation

The energy industry is a rather traditional industry which, as anyone, is forced to adapt digital technology faster than planned. Will life go back to normal, or will platforms, zoom meetings and microphone issues remain part of our lives?

An overwhelming 93% indicates a permanent increase in digital tool usage after restrictions are lifted (note: arguably there’s some selection bias here since this was an online survey).

Out of Positive Energy’s users, 90% indicates our platform is helping their business. Note that only a subset of the respondents where users; our survey was held under a wide industry group.

About Positive Energy

Positive Energy is Asia’s renewable energy investment platform. We support project developers to reach out to a wide network of international investors. Investors get access to unique and vetted deal flow. Launched in July, the platform hosts 600 mln USD of investment opportunities in 5 continents and 14 countries, with offices in Singapore, India and Vietnam.

Our website is https://www.positiveenergylimited.com

Our platform is accessible via app.positiveenergylimited.com

About the survey

The survey was held by reaching out through various digital channels to renewable energy professionals active in Asia. This includes financial and industrial players, advisors but also government and academic actors.

A full report including anonymised dataset can be purchased by contacting contact@positiveenergylimited.com