This year to date has been one of the most turbulent times the world has ever seen — for individuals and the collective population alike. The outbreak of COVID-19 has had an immense impact on every economy and industry, including the energy sector.
The crisis of coronavirus has resulted in a global decline in energy demand of 3.8% in Q1 of 2020, with fossil fuels (namely coal, oil and gas) seeing a total drop of nearly 20% worldwide.
However, renewable energy was the only power source to continue to grow in this unprecedented time. The IEA’s most recent report discusses the impact COVID-19 has had on global energy demand. This blog will focus specifically on the effect felt by the renewable sector and what the world can expect to see going forward.
How have renewables fared?
So far, renewable energy has been resilient to the lockdown measures imposed due to COVID-19. Despite supply chain disruptions that have significantly delayed activity in principal areas (such as China: the leading manufacturer of PV solutions), the expansion of solar, wind and hydropower is expected to help renewable generation to rise by an anticipated 5% in 2020.
As worldwide energy demand plummets by more than 6%, the last five years of energy demand growth is likely to be knocked off if social distancing measures extend into the latter part of the year. Yet, the decline in yearly emissions in 2020 is set to be nearly double that of all previous declines since the end of World War II.
Across the rest of 2020, low-carbon sources are anticipated to continue to outstrip global coal-fired generation. This lead was established in 2019 and shows no signs of slowing. Renewable energy demand saw an increase of c.1.5% in the first quarter of the year. This rise was boosted by new solar and wind projects completed over 2019, resulting in record-high hourly shares of renewables in Belgium, Italy, Germany, Hungary and parts of the United States.
What’s more, the share of renewables among the energy mix jumped from 26% in Q1 of 2019 to 27.5% in the first quarter of this year.
Has there been an impact on electricity?
As would be expected, the services sector — including retail, office, hospitality, education and tourism — has sustained the most considerable hit by regulatory lockdown measures.
However, renewables have claimed an increased share of electricity generation as a result of lockdown measures and depressed electricity demand. While global energy generation was down 2.6%, renewables-based production was up by 3%. This jump can be attributed to a high increase for wind and solar power output from new projects. In India, the shares of renewables and coal in electricity generation have come closer than they ever have before.
Among all renewable energy sources, solar is set to see the fastest increase in 2020.
Is there a bright future ahead?
The coronavirus crisis has heavily influenced the path for transitions to clean energy. Although global CO2 emissions are predicted to see their largest yearly reduction on record, this should be a call for authorities around the globe to make continued efforts and commitments to sustain a lower level of annual emissions. Without real changes, the decline may be fleeting and temporary. For example, the economic crisis of 2008 saw an enormous drop in CO2 levels yet caused an immediate rebound to reach the highest level of emissions on record in 2010.
As such, governments are integral to shaping the energy sector’s recovery from the pandemic. A co-ordinated effort is required to push economies towards a cleaner and more resilient industry.
But is solar still a worthwhile investment?
The short answer: absolutely. Solar energy has quickly become an attractive financial option for homeowners and small business owners alike over recent years as it promotes energy autonomy at competitive costs.
PV is easier and quicker to deploy than fossil fuels or nuclear, for example, and offers an array of benefits backed by its clean power production to reduce harmful gas emissions. As such, the reasons to switch to solar remain unchanged. While there has, of course, been disruption to the industry during the pandemic, the long-term future of solar is still bright.
Do you want to get involved in the clean energy revolution? Find a qualified KODAK Solar Products installer near you today to take the first step towards a more renewable future.
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