Apr 24, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Coronavirus disruption clashes with major renewable energy deadlines

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The financial toll brought on by the coronavirus pandemic could hinder plans for countries' ambitious renewable energy goals, as jobs disappear amid strict nationwide lockdowns.

Driving the news: Milestones for low-carbon energy policies in China, India and the European Union, which were all expected to drive new projects this year, are scheduled to expire soon.

The big picture: The growth previously forecast for global solar and wind projects is expected to be "wiped out" this year and instead round out to about the same as it was in 2019, consultancy Rystad Energy said in March. Next year will be even worse, with a 10% cut in solar and wind ventures compared to 2020 as investments and construction shrink.

Where it stands: In the face of this projected wipeout, deadlines for renewable-energy plans are fast approaching, writes Heymi Bahar, a top International Energy Agency analyst.

Threat level: More than 106,000 U.S. workers in energy efficiency, renewable power, alternative fuels, electric cars and other related sectors lost jobs in March, a BW Research Partnership report published last week found.

The other side: Especially relative to oil and natural gas, wind and solar farms are relatively stable and low-risk investments — which "could give them a financial boost in coming months and years," the Wall Street Journal notes.

What we're watching: "Global recession is quickly becoming the base case assumption as the scope and scale of quarantines continue to expand, but the impacts on the trajectory of the energy transition remain nascent," consultancy Wood Mackenzie said in its weekly note on the pandemic's effect on clean energy.

Go deeper: The impact of coronavirus spans the energy universe

Go deeper

Oil giant Total's new push into offshore wind

A wind farm off the Baltic coast. Photo: Axel Schmidt/Getty Images

The huge multinational oil-and-gas company Total plans to acquire a 51% stake in a very large offshore wind project slated for construction off the Scottish coast called Seagreen 1.

The state of play: The project 1.14-gigawatt project is slated to begin operation at the end of 2022 and will produce enough energy for roughly 1 million homes, Total said.

Energy industry joins calls denouncing racism

Photo: Barcroft Media / Getty Images

Energy trade associations are denouncing systemic racism that perpetuated the killing of George Floyd by white police officers and other similar acts of racial discrimination in recent years.

Why it matters: The comments show how transcendent this topic is becoming as protestors take to the streets around the country calling for an end to police violence which has disproportionately impacted black people.

Cities' budget woes worsen with increased social unrest

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cities were already furloughing workers and considering cutting back essential services — including public safety — because of the dramatic drops in the local tax revenue that funds them. Now they're also dealing with turmoil in their streets.

Why it matters: "Unfortunately, the increasing levels of social unrest across the country reallocated efforts and scarce resources away from the former focus of getting state, regional and local economies back to some semblance of normalcy," per Tom Kozlik, head of municipal strategy and credit at HilltopSecurities.