Renewables Could Be Necessary to Face COVID-19By Dalia Maria de León | Thu, 03/26/2020 - 17:21
The COVID-19 crisis reminds us that electricity is more indispensable than ever. As the pandemic slows down economies across the world, industrial and commercial energy demand is falling while domestic demand increases. Utility firms of all sizes and organizations such as National Grid in the US are currently facing a variety of consumer, investor and media inquiries along the lines of: Is there a risk to supply? Can the grid cope with increased domestic and reduced commercial demand? Will essential maintenance repairs continue?
Over the past weeks, energy demand has been experiencing several changes. A report from USwitch states that the UK’s collective weekly energy bills for domestic users are likely to be up to US$63 million higher this year than in 2019, due to approximately 16.8 million people working from home. The study claims that the average citizen working from home will use 25 percent more electricity and 17 percent more gas per day at home than on a usual working day, adding US$19 per month to their bills if they are on a standard variable tariff.
While countries across Europe go into lockdown in the hopes of containing the virus, gas and power grid operators are scrambling to roll out emergency plans to make sure their control rooms are safe from infection and can keep critical infrastructure running. Currently, there are more than 12 million km of distribution network potentially at risk, on which millions of residential and commercial consumers rely.
In France, Voltalia has maintained its renewable growth forecasts for 2020 despite the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, noting, however, there is a chance that the emergency could delay some contracts. The French company said it will not change for now its target to take its installed green energy portfolio from 717MW this month to 1GW by the end of the year, even as the pandemic spreads worldwide to the various global regions the firm operates in.
In India, Pinaki Bhattacharyya, Co-founder, and CEO of Amp Energy India, said renewables would help ensure a smooth and uninterrupted supply of renewable power across the country since renewable energy is not dependent on fuel and transportation for its operation and can run in all situations, unlike conventional power plants. In the current scenario Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister said there must be uninterrupted power generation including generation from renewable energy power plants. The prime minister gave permission for staff, vehicles and associated workforce to move around locations like substations, transmission lines and towers for operation and maintenance activities of renewable power generation. The country’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) will treat delays caused by supply disruption from China or elsewhere as “force majeure” events, as it considers requests extensions and waivers over previously-agreed project delivery deadlines.