In a short matter of time, workplaces spanning the globe have emptied out amidst the rising tide of COVID-19, and life as we know it has been upended. The vast majority of business sectors are experiencing significant operational disruptions and are rapidly pivoting to develop strategies to keep them afloat in both the short and long term. The renewable energy sector is no exception. The most obvious disruptions will be to project timelines and supply chains. That said, the renewable energy sector will undoubtedly weather this storm and will emerge stronger as the entire world is forced to rethink our current systems. In fact, this crisis may also trigger an increase in future renewable energy investments if backers come to view the assets as a viable option.
Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, probably explains it best. “Demand has abruptly decreased by 15% with the lockdowns in numerous countries to slow the spread of COVID-19, which in turn pushed higher the share of renewable energy sources. Some of these economies, such as Spain and California, are among those with the highest shares of wind and solar electricity generation in the world. If electricity demand falls quickly while weather conditions remain the same, the share of variable renewables like wind and solar can become higher than normal.”
He further articulates, “In this way, the recent drop in electricity demand fast forwarded some power systems 10 years into the future, suddenly giving them levels of wind and solar power that they wouldn’t have had otherwise without another decade of investment in renewables. This is an important moment for our understanding of cleaner electricity systems, including some of the operational challenges that policy makers and regulators need to address to ensure electricity security.”
Indeed, electrical security which is directly tied to the critical issues of preparedness and resiliency is paramount and never more relevant, as we rely on electricity to keep hospitals running, telecommuting high functioning, and food stored safely — just to name a few.
In fact, the issue of preparedness warrants a deeper dive. Companies recognize smarter technologies and distributed storage are more important than ever, and renewable energy plays a huge role as we flesh this out. Ashley Wald, partner at Denver based Holland & Hart, who advises renewable energy developers, states, “What’s been impressive is the response to the pandemic, whether you’re looking at California or elsewhere across the country, has been, if nothing else, a renewed push for these technologies.” She has noted that there is a marked difference in outlook from conversations she’s been having with colleagues who focus on other energy sectors, some of which are seeing demand dry up.
While there will be short term delays with regard to permitting, procurement, construction and supply chain, the renewable energy sector is in it for the long haul. The promotion of alternative energy sources, whether initiated for environmental reasons or security concerns, is robust and very much in place amidst this unprecedented uncertainty.
For Biostar specifically, as a “critical infrastructure” organization during this time of global crisis, we continue full speed ahead to operate and support all our renewable energy assets, including our energy services platforms, waste-to-energy initiatives and organic fertilizer production— all essential to the functioning of the US economy. We will experience hiccups, like everyone else, but view this current situation as an opportunity to double down on our efforts.
According to Reuters, last year, the U.S. solar industry installed 13.3 GW of capacity, a 23% increase from the prior year. Utility-scale projects accounted for nearly two-thirds of the market. Solar accounted for 40% of the nation’s new electric generating capacity, compared with 32% for natural gas. We look to further our role in contributing to another high- percentage increase of US renewable installations throughout the rest of the year and beyond even amidst the current global pandemic.