Mar 13, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The impact of coronavirus spans the energy universe

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The effects of the coronavirus on renewable energy, electric vehicles and oil are all coming into sharper focus in recent days.

Why it matters: A report from research firm BloombergNEF provides a window onto the breadth of the virus' effects on a suite of energy technologies, not just use of oil.

  • The addition of new solar power generating capacity could fall this year for the first time since at least the late 1980s. The biggest upheaval comes in China.
  • For wind, researchers see "considerable downside risk" to their prior forecasts for new wind installations of 75 gigawatts of new capacity, but still expect a record year. The amount of the drop will depend on how fast Chinese suppliers resume full production and the duration of construction delays in the U.S.
  • Another problem for the wind industry is that canceled events and company travel bans are "threatening to weaken transaction volumes" this year.
  • For electric vehicles, they're not immune to the wider decline in car sales stemming from coronavirus, the report notes. In China, the largest market, they expect sales to be flat, but add that the numbers could fall if coronavirus recovery drags on.
  • In the U.S., the report provisionally sees flat EV sales this year, but adds, "this could be revised down." It cites other headwinds, including uncertainty over fuel economy rules, expiring tax credits for some automakers' vehicles and low oil prices.

The big picture: They say the "distracted policymaker effects" of coronavirus could affect renewables and battery storage policies as legislative bodies shut down or work on emergency response.

But, but, but: There are also hopeful signs in the analysis. For instance, researchers see "minimal" effect on the offshore wind sector outside of China.

  • And BloombergNEF expects EV sales to "weather the storm better than sales of internal combustion vehicles."
  • It sees a 50% rise in Europe as automakers try to meet carbon emissions standards, and expect the Chinese government to announce a major stimulus program for the auto sector.

Go deeper: Coronavirus poses threat to China’s electric vehicle goals (Financial Times)

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information about estimated U.S. electric vehicle sales.

Go deeper

Virus vices take a toll on Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are doubling down on their worst habits to cope with the mental and emotional stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on the health of the American people, in part due to the habits they'll pick up during the weeks and months they're forced to stay home.

Go deeperArrow19 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll passes 9,600

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 9,600 in the U.S. Sunday night, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Scoop: Inside the epic White House fight over hydroxychloroquine

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The White House coronavirus task force had its biggest fight yet on Saturday, pitting economic adviser Peter Navarro against infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci. At issue: How enthusiastically should the White House tout the prospects of an antimalarial drug to fight COVID-19?

Behind the scenes: This drama erupted into an epic Situation Room showdown. Trump's coronavirus task force gathered in the White House Situation Room on Saturday at about 1:30pm, according to four sources familiar with the conversation. Vice President Mike Pence sat at the head of the table.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 6 hours ago - Health