We are experiencing unprecedented times by modern standards. Most of us living today have not faced a situation like the one created by the coronavirus. Society changed almost overnight as countries around the world struggle to contain the virus and protect human lives.
While COVID-19 is a bad thing, it has created a unique situation in the energy sector. With many businesses out of commission and people staying home due to social distancing, most areas have seen a decline in energy consumption.
This sounds good from an environmentalist standpoint. Some regions are reporting less pollution as industry grinds to a halt. However, it also paves the way for renewable power to shine.
Less Energy Demand Forces a Price Change
Peak power consumption is down. Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom have reported an average 10% drop in usage.
These shifts also affect fossil fuel-based sources. Coal is usually one of the cheapest options available. It currently stands as the most expensive around the world as cheaper green energies and natural gas prices sink.
“In most economies that have taken strong confinement measures in response to the coronavirus – and for which we have available data – electricity demand has declined by around 15%, largely as a result of factories and businesses halting operations,” Director of the International Energy Agency Dr. Fatih Birol explained in a blog post.
Renewable Energy Takes Over in the U.K.
On Sunday, March 5th, the U.K. experienced an unusually sunny day. During that day, approximately 40% of the country’s energy was generated using wind farms with a fifth coming from solar power.
It is impressive to consider that during that time renewable energy produced more power to cover the reduced needs of the country. Octopus Energy, a green energy company, even paid some of its customers to use energy during the day. The scheme previously was only available at night during periods of low demand.
Dr. Birol views this change as an opportunity for renewables.
“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 they wouldn’t have had otherwise without another decade of investment in renewables.”
He also predicted that this increase in renewable power could help countries come up with ways to cope with drops in power that happen when the sun sets or when winds weaken.
Connect Electric believes that many of the world’s energy problems can be answered using renewable technology. While the coronavirus pandemic has wrought havoc around the world, there is hope that we can learn a few things during this difficult time.
No one can know exactly how this could change things in the coming years, but there is no denying the attention that’s been put on previously neglected green energy sources. Wind, solar, and hydropower could become more important, allowing us to phase out non-renewable and harmful fossil fuels to pave the way for a greener future.