On 11 March 2020 COVID-19 was officially classed as a Pandemic by the World Health Organisation. The situation is continuously changing on literally an hourly basis. This makes it hard to forecast the effects it will have on the solar industry and more broadly, the renewables sector.
The solar energy industry has felt a strain from the virus along with the majority of industries across the globe. With supplies being limited and available funding decreasing, things have become harder and will likely continue to do so into the foreseeable future.
Amid the chaos there are some positives to be noted. On the 26th of march, U.S solar manufacturer, ‘First Solar’ announced that operations have been unaffected by restrictions put in place and they have put in measures to ensure production continues. This could change at any time, but for now that is a positive sign for the industry.
The Clean Energy Council has spoken up in a bid for Australia’s national Covid-19 response to include support for projects resulting in long term benefits. These include batteries, rooftop solar, micro grids and more. It is going to be vital to keep the solar industry alive. With the government rebate available for home installations, it is still a beneficial deal for the average australian household to install solar systems in their home. The same goes for large-scale solar grid projects, funding will need to continue. Renewable energy will only help to reduce effects of situations like this, should they arise again down the track.
As events unfold and the ripple effects of the virus become more evident, it will be easier to forecast just how much it will disrupt the industry. One thing has however, become clear. The reliance on fossil fuels has left countries more vulnerable to the economic whiplash of a global crisis like the coronavirus, and Australia is certainly not discluded in this.
The volatility in the oil markets cannot be ignored, especially when exposed by events such as what we are currently experiencing. Renewable energy has long been promoted as a better alternative in terms of environmental impact. It now also has to be said that from an economic standpoint, it holds more stability when facing disruptions. It’s no secret that there is a historical bias towards fossil fuels. However, Governments are beginning to recognise the outweighing benefits and sustainability of renewable energy. Especially when faced with unforeseen events, which seem to be becoming more and more common.
If nothing else good comes from this crisis, perhaps it will be a catalyst in exposing the dire need to make fossil fuels a thing of the past.