London — The solar industry needs to confront the escalating frequency and severity of hailstorms with pragmatic, low-cost solutions, according to a new report published by GCube Insurance (GCube), a leading underwriter for renewable energy.

The report, titled “Hail No! Defending Solar from nature’s cold assault”, is based on data collected by GCube over the past five years. It shows that hail claims now average around USD 58.4 million per claim and account for 54.21% of incurred costs of total solar loss claims being attributable to hail. This is creating a gap between the insurance requirements for solar projects and what is available in the market, leading to project delays and cancellations.

The report identifies several key factors contributing to solar project vulnerability, including inadequate hail risk models, ineffective mitigation strategies, limited and costly insurance coverage, and an uncertain funding landscape. It also highlights how solar manufacturers, in their pursuit of reducing the Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE), have introduced larger solar panels with thinner, more fragile glass and have chosen locations more susceptible to hail risk, threatening the financial viability of future projects.

Fraser McLachlan, Chief Executive Officer, GCube Insurance, said, “The solar sector plays a crucial role in the global energy transition. Given its comparatively low costs for manufacture and installation, it is the most efficient clean power technology for driving decarbonisation.”

“However, the consequences of hail damage risk undermining the security of solar power as a prominent clean energy solution. We therefore have an overriding imperative to develop solutions to this challenge and restore our ability as insurers to provide the sector with long term risk underwriting.”

To support this goal, GCube’s report puts forward two patented technologies developed by Solar Defender Technologies, which offer simple and effective solutions to the problem of hail risk.

The first is the Hail Strike Defender, a low-cost, CAPEX neutral catchment net that protects single axis tracked solar installations while maintaining optimal energy output – a key differentiator that sets the solution apart from existing protection mechanisms in the market. The second solution, Solar Shield, is designed to protect fixed-tilt solar panels that are installed on rooftops and provides a panel face protector that deflects the impact of hailstones.

Both Solar Defender Technologies provide substantial protection of modules against hail of up to 250 joules.

Fraser McLachlan added: “We can’t move quickly enough as the ability of insurers to cover solar’s global growth becomes increasingly constrained. Therefore, the unity of manufacturers, developers, operators, and insurers will be a vital part of softening the widening gap in insurance coverage. The success of the solar sector as it navigates hail risks is hinged on immediate action and innovation to ensure a cleaner, more sustainable future powered by solar energy.”

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