According to the study on the apogee of renewable energies carried out last year by the UN agency for the environment, the fossil fuel industry has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Consequently, the coal, gas, and electricity demand in many countries during the pandemic, represent an opportunity to drive a more sustainable post-COVID recovery. Additionally, since 2019 there has been a boom towards the implementation of renewable energy sources, without forgetting the impulse represented by the commitment to reduce emissions to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Since the end of 2019 and during 2020, renewable energies have achieved great profitability due to the decreases in installation costs, the technological improvements that have been presented and the favorable policies for this sector, which has guaranteed a higher return on investments. By 2019, the electricity costs of new photovoltaic solar plants were 83% lower than a few decades earlier. It is becoming increasingly feasible to encourage governments to use sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery plans to foster and establish sustainable economies. In addition to this, the UN agency for the environment research shows that renewable energy is one of the smartest and most profitable investments to promote, considering that the goal for 2030 is the installation of 826 GW of new capacity of renewable energy other than hydroelectric generation. According to Svenja Schulze, Germany’s Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety “The promotion of renewable energy can be a powerful engine for the recovery of the economy after the COVID-19 crisis, with the ability to create new and safe jobs”.
A study recently carried out by BNamericas, Data Report: The solar advance during the pandemic, reported that despite all the disadvantages that the pandemic brought to different economic sectors, the solar energy sector stood out above all, as an industry that gets moving. Figures shared by BNamericas indicate that so far in November 2019 and November 2020 around 49 solar energy projects entered operations in Latin America. Additionally, for this same period the solar capacity of the projects that emerged increased by 2, 1GW generation with sustainable sources in Latin America. The foregoing shows that against all odds the operators, contractors and suppliers of solar energy were successful in the design and construction of photovoltaic projects, highlighting the solar sector above all others with constant progress, despite the months with restrictions and lockdowns due to the pandemic.
On the other hand, the report by S&P Global Platts Analytics “The energy transition: Covid-19 could make 2020 crucial for renewable energies” mentions that, even though political responses to Covid-19 on renewable energies vary across regions, support for clean energy and decarbonization is leading to significant improvement in renewable energy additions, and green hydrogen plans also add further stimulus to this sector. Additionally, the report mentions that in recent months there has been a strong appetite of investors for renewable energies due to the decrease in costs that allow clean energy to compete more and more at grid parity prices. This concludes that the actors of Larger renewable energies, with solid balance sheets, may be better positioned and in the future, will be the ones to consolidate the industry.
Finally, we list some challenges facing the energy sector in Latin America and the Caribbean due to the coronavirus crisis, information taken from the Inter-American Development Bank blog:
– The decrease in demand and the lack of payments for the provision of the service are problems that require establishing strategies to guarantee the financial and operational sustainability of the sector. Challenges that will not only be present during the pandemic crisis, but also in the post-COVID recovery process.
– The crisis caused by the pandemic evidenced the need to guarantee the affordability of energy services to the entire population.
– The occupational safety of workers essential for the operation and maintenance of the electrical system must be guaranteed.
– It is essential to guarantee the continuous and high-quality supply in health centers and other basic services such as water supply and management. As well as ensuring the support to all health centers.