Renewable power has taken up a record share of global electricity production since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting a transition away from fossil fuels could be accelerated in the coming years. The past few months have shown that renewable energy has become more dependable, sector experts say, accounting for well over half of output in some European countries, while grid operators proved they could successfully manage larger doses of fluctuating energy flows. To learn more, read “Green energy ratchets up power during coronavirus pandemic”.
- “This has been a real test of how resilient the grids are, and we know they coped because the lights stayed on,” said Rory McCarthy, energy storage senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie.
- In Europe, Wärtsilä found renewables generated an average of 44% of power across the 27-nation bloc and Britain from April to June, when many countries were in lockdown, against 37.2% in the same period last year. Daily peaks hit 53%.
- “We are seeing figures we weren’t expecting to see for another 10 years,” said Matti Rautkivi, Wärtsilä’s director of strategy and business development.
- In the United States, renewables provided 23% of total electricity during the April lockdown, up from 17% in the same period of 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The peak share rose to almost 80% in parts of the windy interior of the country.
Path to 100% Perspective:
These findings indicate that policymakers and clean energy advocates must work diligently to pave the way for future renewable energy projects by enacting clean energy policies that enable, not overburden, the transition to 100% renewables. The pandemic resulted in reduced energy usage, leading grid operators to turn to renewable energy sources as an affordable option, but this will not last. Once energy usage levels return to pre-COVID levels, grid operators may turn to more traditional power sources, making it imperative for clean energy advocates and politicians to act now.
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