Despite disruptions in the early stages of the pandemic, many new connections via grids and mini-grids were completed in 2020. However, planning for new projects slowed during the pandemic, due to both delays in the pandemic. supply and the need to prioritize the public health emergency. . These pipeline slowdowns make the outlook for new grid connections a bit more pessimistic for 2021.
Off-grid stand-alone solutions – increasingly preferred as a way to gain first access – have been particularly affected by downturns resulting from the pandemic. The deployment of stand-alone solar systems decreased by more than 20% in 2020, according to GOGLA, the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association. This was in part due to travel limitations that prevented installers from reaching households, as many countries did not view off-grid solar companies as essential service providers. In addition, supply chain disruptions continue to increase the prices of solar cells and other electronic components. These factors, along with weakening household incomes due to the pandemic, are expected to keep sales below pre-pandemic levels in 2021.
Sales of new off-grid systems have also shifted to more basic packages since the pandemic, as customers cannot afford the larger off-grid systems that support greater power consumption, so that they miss out on critical end uses, such as refrigeration and the resulting health and food safety benefits.