Sustainable Energy

Amid disruptions from the coronavirus, wind turbine giant Vestas suspends guidance for 2020

Key Points
  • The coronavirus pandemic continues to pose unprecedented challenges to the renewable energy sector. 
  • Firms are attempting to juggle production targets with increasingly tough lockdown measures.
Courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S

Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has suspended guidance for 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose unprecedented challenges to the renewable energy sector. 

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Aarhus-headquartered firm noted that the global spread of COVID-19 and national measures taken to contain it had caused disruptions to installations, manufacturing and its supply chain.

"The situation changes daily and my colleagues' ability to adapt fast and follow our extensive safety measures have been key to keeping performance in the first quarter in line with expectations," Henrik Andersen, Vestas' group president and CEO, said in the statement.

"Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to spread and with no clear prognosis on when key wind markets such as the USA, Brazil and India will recover, we are suspending our guidance due to the poor visibility for the remainder of the year."

The coronavirus pandemic is presenting renewable energy firms with a range of challenges, as they attempt to juggle production targets with increasingly tough lockdown measures being implemented by governments.

According to industry body WindEurope, while the majority of wind turbine and component factories in Europe are continuing to operate, 18 manufacturing sites are currently closed. All of these shuttered facilities are in Spain or Italy, which have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of other factories, WindEurope says, "have temporarily paused activity as a precautionary step to strengthen sanitary measures within the sites and guarantee full compliance with government recommendations."

Europe's supply chain also experienced some disruptions in February related to components and materials coming from China, where the coronavirus outbreak began. But WindEurope has said supplies are now "ramping back up again." 

Europe is not the only market being impacted. On Monday, Wood Mackenzie projected that 3 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic and wind installations in India could be delayed due to the lockdown currently in place there.

For context, India installed 9.5 GW of solar photovoltaics and 2.4 GW of wind power in 2019, according to Wood Mackenzie. Photovoltaic refers to a way of directly converting light from the sun into electricity.

"The timing of the lockdown is unfortunate as Q1 (the first quarter) is typically one of the busiest periods for wind project installations," Robert Liew, a principal analyst at the research and consultancy firm, said in a statement.

"The lockdown will delay some projects until summer, and if the lockdown is extended past April, wind farm construction could be further delayed into the monsoon season, where wind installations are typically at their lowest."