Green Energy Could Power COVID-19 Recovery with USD 98tn Global GDP Boost
Date: May 8th 2020
Author: Tanja Srnovršnik
, Energy policy
Investing in renewable energy could power an economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis by spurring global GDP gains of USD 98 trillion between now and 2050, according to the first Global Renewables Outlook released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in April.IRENA found that decarbonisation of the energy system supports the short-term recovery from the COVID-19 crisis while helping to tackle the global climate emergency.
“Governments are facing the difficult task of bringing the health emergency under control while introducing major stimulus and recovery measures. The crisis has exposed the deeply embedded vulnerabilities of the current system,” said IRENA’s Director-General, Francesco La Camera.
According to La Camera, IRENA’s outlook “shows ways to build more sustainable, equitable and resilient economies by aligning short-term recovery efforts with the medium-and long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Agenda.”
While a pathway to deeper decarbonisation requires total energy investments of up to USD 130 trillion, the socio-economic gains of such investments would be massive, reveals IRENA’s outlook.
Transforming the energy system could boost cumulative global GDP gains above business-as-usual by USD 98 trillion between now and 2050. It would nearly quadruple renewable energy jobs to 42 million, expand employment in energy efficiency to 21 million and add 15 million in system flexibility, according to the outlook.
“By accelerating renewables and making the energy transition an integral part of the wider recovery, governments can achieve multiple economic and social objectives in the pursuit of a resilient future that leaves nobody behind,” stressed La Camera.
The outlook also found that renewable energy could curb the rise in global temperatures by helping to reduce the energy industry’s CO2 emissions by 70% by 2050 by replacing fossil fuels.
“Furthermore, a new perspective on deeper decarbonisation shows a path towards net-zero and zero emissions. Building on five technology pillars, particularly green hydrogen and extended end-use electrification, could help replace fossil fuels and slash emissions in heavy industry and hard-to-decarbonise sectors,” said IRENA.
Ignacio Galán, the CEO of the Spanish renewables giant Iberdrola, said recently that the company would continue to invest billions in renewable energy as well as electricity networks and batteries to help integrate clean energy in electricity.
“Speeding up investments, once these exceptional circumstances come to an end, is the best - I would venture to say the only - way to get through this situation of crisis and uncertainty. Therefore, in 2020 it is our intention to surpass last year’s investment record and reach EUR 10 billion,” he noted (MORE).
Coal-based power generation fell by over a quarter (25.5%) across the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) in the first three months of 2020 compared to 2019, as a result of the response to COVID-19, with renewable energy reaching a 43% share, according to a new analysis by the technology group Wärtsilä. The impact has been even more stark in the last month, with coal generation collapsing by almost one-third (29%) between 10 March and 10 April compared to the same period in 2019, making up only 12% of total EU and UK generation. By contrast, renewables delivered almost half (46%) of generation – an increase of 8% compared to 2019. In total, demand for electricity across the continent is down by one-tenth (10%) due to measures taken to combat COVID-19, the biggest drop in demand since the Second World War. The result is an unprecedented fall in carbon emissions from the power sector, with emission intensity falling by almost 20% (19.5%) compared to the same period (10 March to 10 April) last year, according to an analysis by the Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab. "The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has effectively accelerated the energy transition in the short-term, providing a unique opportunity to see how energy systems function with far higher levels of renewables," said Wärtsilä.
This article is available also in Slovene.
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