Solar industry sees impact of COVID-19, experiences $6.7 Million in revenue loss

Posted on Monday, June 29, 2020


Will Giese

(808) 232-8371

NEWS Release


May 11, 2020

Solar industry sees impact of COVID-19, experiences $6.7 Million in revenue loss

HONOLULU, HI: The Hawaii Solar Energy Association, Hawaii’s leading voice of the solar industry, has released the results of its COVID-19 Business Impact Survey that indicates that the solar industry has felt negative impacts related to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis in Hawaii. The industry reported a total revenue loss exceed $6.7 million between mid-March and mid-April, a greater than 50% loss in market value when compared with Oahu’s declared residential permit value from the same time period in 2019. Companies also saw a 12% decline in total full time employment in the same time period and predict an additional 18% loss by the end of May absent any significant market changes.

“The results of this survey seem to follow broader national trends regarding the solar industry’s decline due to COVID-19,” said William Giese, HSEA’s Executive Director. “This is just the beginning, and we need to brace ourselves for bigger loses later in the year if things remain the same.”

While total permit volume has remained steady in the first four months of 2020, this is likely reflective of projects booked in late 2019, rather than new projects booked this year. The step down of the federal investment tax credit (ITC) at the end of 2019 led to a larger-than-average sales volume in Q419, and companies subsequently scheduled development of those jobs as far as the end od Q220. During the survey period, companies also indicated to the HSEA that they were experiencing difficulty generating sales, and cited customer uncertainty as a primary driver of declining sales volume.

“We believe that permit volume is a trailing metric and is not indicative of projected market activity even a few months from now,” said Mr. Giese. “The reality is that solar companies are having difficulty booking jobs out for the first week in June when they should be booked out to at least July by now.”  

Additionally, all companies surveyed indicated that they had experienced at least some project delays as a result of COVID-19, with over half of respondents experiencing delays on 50% or more of their projects. Top three reasons for project delays include interconnection and permitting delays, customer uncertainty, and a decrease in access to financing. The survey was conducted across 20 of the largest residential and commercial solar contractors in Hawaii and represents approximately 70% of the total solar market by permit volume. The HSEA intends to conduct future surveys in the months to come.


Founded in 1977, the Hawaii Solar Energy Association is a Non-Profit organization and is comprised of installers, distributors, manufacturers, auditors, and financiers of solar water heating and photovoltaic systems. The majority of our member companies are locally owned and operated, making HSEA the leading voice of Hawaii’s solar industry.

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