May 20, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Renewable energy will show "resilience" to coronavirus pandemic

Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic is slowing growth of wind and solar electricity projects, but the renewables sector is "more resilient than other fuels" and slated to bounce back quickly, the International Energy Agency said.

Why it matters: It's on track to be the first year-over-year decline in 20 years, IEA said in a report that offers their downward revision in expected 2020–2021 capacity growth.

It's something of a glass half-full for people fearful that the crisis will hinder efforts to fight climate change.

  • IEA sees growth resuming next year after an expected 13% drop in 2020, but the forecast for additions over the two years combined has taken a hit.
  • And decarbonization of energy systems needs to speed up greatly to meet emissions cuts consistent with the Paris climate deal.

Driving the news: "The decline reflects delays in construction activity due to supply chain disruption, lockdown measures and social-distancing guidelines, and emerging financing challenges," the report states.

One level deeper: Solar photovoltaics and wind are expected to provide the vast majority of global capacity additions this year, but their growth is forecast to be respectively 18% and 12% lower than last year.

  • Still, IEA anticipates that utility-scale projects will rebound because most of them in the pipeline are already financed and under construction.
  • Rooftop solar, however, will see slower recovery as households and small businesses review investments, IEA said.

Of note: IEA actually sees renewable power generation growing a bit this year despite pandemic-related declines in overall power demand.

  • Renewables are the only fuel source with a forecasted demand increase in 2020. The report notes renewables' "low operating costs and priority access to the grid in many markets."

Go deeper: Clean energy and climate change unlikely to lead American recovery

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand has only eight active novel coronavirus cases and no COVID-19 patients in hospital after another day of zero new infections. However, the death toll has risen to 22.

Zoom in: A top health official told a briefing Thursday a 96-year-old woman was regarded to have recovered from COVID-19 at the time of her death. The virus is not recorded as the primary cause of her death on her death certificate. But he said it was decided to include her in the overall tally of deaths related to the coronavirus.

Go deeper (2 min. read)ArrowUpdated 14 hours ago - Health

Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.

House Democrats pull FISA reauthorization bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats pulled legislation Thursday that would have renewed expired domestic surveillance laws and strengthened transparency and privacy protections amid broad opposition from President Trump, House GOP leadership and progressive Democrats.

Why it matters: The failure to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) comes as Trump continues to attack the intelligence community, which he claims abused the law to surveil his 2016 campaign and Trump administration officials.