It’s that time again! The third month of 2020 has come and gone already. We have all been met with significant challenges this month, namely COVID-19. Here we have laid out how the energy industry has been affected by the coronavirus, and how the N-Sci team has met the challenge of working from home.

How Coronavirus Makes the Case for Renewable Energy

Reliance on fossil fuels has left countries more exposed to the economic shock of global crises such as the coronavirus, and governments should look to renewable energy to reduce such risks, says Dr. Charles Donovan, Executive Director of the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment at London’s Imperial College Business School.1 When COVID-19 was declared as a pandemic, Saudi Arabia also decided to increase oil supply, even though demand was declining. This chain of events caused the Dow Jones to decline by 10%, which is the largest drop ever seen since 1987.1

Donovan believes that this volatility was built into the global economy due to the over-reliance on fossil fuels. Donovan stressed that sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar, and tidal power are less volatile than fossil fuels, and would increase the stability of the energy markets as well as the stability of cash flow from underlying assets. Renewable power is considered more resistant to monopolization by cartels and manipulation, due to the fact that it is powered by wind, water, or sunlight.

“It’s not that by having more wind turbines and solar panels we could avoid coronavirus,” Donovan said. “But we [the major economies] have been like the frog in a pan of water that’s slowing warming up: the fire has just been turned up several notches, and the only thing we can do now is jump out of the pan. This is about building an energy infrastructure that creates resilience.”1

The Coronavirus is Showing Us How Clean the Air Can be if Electric Cars were the Norm

By now, with the power of social media, you have likely seen images passed around of places like China, London, Paris, or Los Angeles with clear blue skies not plagued by smog. For instance, one Twitter user posted a photo of their balcony in London, and they could clearly see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Before the pandemic, there was too much smog to be able to see the Tower at all.

This silver lining in the destruction that the coronavirus has dealt us, is that it’s showing us what it would be like if the world were to transition to electric transportation. With stay-at-home orders all over the world, passenger car traffic has been way down and people have been burning less petrol, and therefore less harmful toxins have entered the atmosphere.2

If everyone who is staying home were to drive electric cars powered by renewable energy when they go back to their regular commute, we would keep this incredible air quality going forward. In addition, the virus may have pushed more politicians to see that the best path for US energy independence and security would be the rapid adoption of EVs and renewable power. It would create cleaner air, create more local expertise in EVs – and therefore more EV manufacturing and supply chains – resulting in more jobs in the US.2

Australia’s New Community Solar, Solar Storage, and Solar Hydrogen Projects

In the past couple of weeks, national and state government organisations in Australia have announced various stages of consideration for solar projects with a range of advanced and innovative storage solutions attached. Via the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the national government said last week that it is funding a feasibility study for a 4MW / 50MWh solar ‘thermal hydro’ electric plant which has been proposed by Melbourne-headquartered startup RayGen.3

The fully dispatchable power plant would use PV Ultra, which is a combination of photovoltaic (PV) solar generation with the more expensive and engineering-intensive concentrated solar technology using angled mirror towers (heliostats). The PV Ultra system would generate both electricity and heat. This generation technology would in turn be co-located and connected to a ‘Thermal Hydro’ energy storage facility, with 17 hours of storage. Unlike pumped hydro energy storage which uses two reservoirs at different heights, relying on gravity to drive turbines, the Thermal Hydro plant would use a hot reservoir and a cold reservoir, linked together. The PV Ultra solution will therefore cool one reservoir using photovoltaic power and grid power when needed, while also heating the other reservoir using the heliostats.3

Wind Power Industry Heads for Record Year

Offshore wind, which was set to have a relatively slow year, will be largely untouched by the virus, compared to onshore installations. The world’s biggest developer of offshore wind farms, Denmark’s Orsted A/S, said last week that it would maintain guidance and is weighing $13 billion of investments in Taiwan.4

Existing owners of renewable power assets like Orsted may be relatively unscathed in this crisis compared to fossil fuel investors that have seen the price of oil and natural gas plummet. Many green power sites have fixed prices, either from governments or through long-term agreements with corporate buyers. And in the longer term, wind should recover. Overall, BNEF’s forecast for installations from 2020 through 2023 have actually increased compared to their 2020 report at the end of last year. Much of the drop this year is set to be made up with an extra-busy 2021.4               

Making (Sun) Waves in Nova Scotia

Over this past month, N-Sci has been working hard to expand our ability to reach your needs. We are excited to announce that we are now working in Nova Scotia on three solar farm projects. As we are able to release more information, we will update you on these projects and are excited to see more solar power coming to the province!

How the N-Sci Team is Handling COVID-19

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, N-Sci Technologies continues to monitor and are closely following official guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the World Health Organization, and Ontario Provincial directives. Although the coronavirus has presented a sizeable challenge to many businesses around the world, N-Sci has ensured each of our employees has the resources they need to continue to work safely, responsibly, and efficiently for our clients. Our staff are now working safely from home, and as always, communication between employees and our clients is held to the utmost importance during this difficult time.

For further information on how we can help you and your business, we encourage you to contact 705-941-1199, or email info@nsci.ca. Thank you for your ongoing support of N-Sci and we wish you good health in this challenging time.

References

1Vetter, David. (March 13, 2020). How Coronavirus Makes The Case For Renewable Energy. Retrieved from forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrvetter/1010/03/13/how-coronavirus-makes-the-case-for-renewable-energy/#31a0741e5c85

2Lambert, Fred. (March 30, 2020). The coronavirus is showing us how clean the air can be if electric cars were the norm. Retrieved from electrek.com: https://electrek.co/2020/03/30/coronavirus-clean-air-electric-cars-adoption/

3Colthorpe, Andy. (March 25, 2020). Australia’s new community solar, solar-storage, ‘solar hydro’ and solar hydrogen projects. Retrieved from energy-storage.news: https://www.energy-storage.news/news/australias-new-community-solar-solar-storage-solar-hydro-and-solar-hydrogen

4Mathis, W. & Hodges, J. (March 31, 2020). Wind-Power Industry Heads for Record Year. Retrieved from business.financialpost.com: https://business.financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/wind-power-industry-heads-for-record-year

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