Top solar installer challenges right now include supply chain, lack of trained labor

solar installer survey

Three out of five of solar installers say that their businesses were harmed in 2021 due to supply chain issues, according to the seventh annual Solar Installer Survey conducted by EnergySage and NABCEP. Over 500 residential and commercial installers across the country participated in this year’s survey, which provides observations about the U.S. solar industry from a wide cross-section of local, regional, and national solar installers.

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The top challenge, as noted earlier, was the supply chain. According to installers, supply chain constraints overwhelmingly manifested as freight delays, decreasing the availability of solar panels and batteries in particular: 57% of installers stated it was more difficult to purchase and receive the solar equipment they wanted to sell.

For the first time, survey respondents stated that a lack of trained labor was the largest barrier to growing their business, exceeding both customer acquisition and the availability of equipment. This might be a good time to take a look at the upcoming training programs offered by SEI.

Lastly, half of survey respondents say they will begin hiring more people if Congress extends the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for 10 years. Conversely, a complete phase out of the ITC would lead most installers to scale back their businesses or business-related spending.

Additionally, 70% of installers say the introduction of a direct-pay option for the ITC (an upfront cash rebate as opposed to a tax credit post installation) would result in greater consumer demand for solar.

EnergySage fielded this survey from January through March 2021. In addition to EnergySage, NABCEP, the leading certification organization for renewable energy professionals, as well as several large manufacturers, distributors, publications, and industry associations sent the survey to their own installer networks. In total, 501 solar installers participated across 43 states and two territories: Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

“It cannot be overstated how important this information is to the solar industry and the future of the renewable energy sector,” said Shawn O’Brien, President & CEO of NABCEP. “We feel that our organization can play a significant role in meeting the nearly one million solar jobs needed to meet President Biden’s clean energy target by 2035. This report contains crucial data that credentialing bodies like ourselves can use to bolster our current programs and continue our devotion to grow the solar workforce.”

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