COVID-19 Shows Energy Resiliency, Renewables & Storage is Crucial to Emergency Preparedness
As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages communities around the world, technology is playing a crucial role in helping us access information, conduct business and connect with others.
The catastrophic impact on lives, jobs and savings, the shortages in raw materials and finished goods, and the severe strains on healthcare, remind us that we can’t always count on centralized resources and the distribution systems that deliver them. People are beginning to feel first-hand the consequences of being totally dependent on large centralized systems and institutions – when they fail, people go without critical resources.
However, technologies that help us access and generate local resources, that build our capacity to create and store critical reserves in our homes, businesses and communities, are helping us bridge these system-wide failures, and may be our best defense in times like this.
The energy industry is no exception. Fears about energy security have intensified in the era of COVID-19, despite a deal in the Russia/OPEC price war, and more than $5.2 Trillion in annual global fossil fuel subsidies. With increasing frequency, aging electrical grids are failing to deliver power safely and reliably. In California alone, more than 2,000 fires were caused over the past four years by antiquated and vulnerable grid equipment.
Yet energy is crucial to our lives and economies, as both the federal and state governments recognize in designating energy as an “essential critical infrastructure workforce” that must continue to operate despite “shelter in place” orders prompted by the pandemic. Even today, demand for renewable energy generation and storage remains strong, making it still one of the fastest growing, job creating sectors in the economy.
Some expect that governments and industries fighting the coronavirus believe they will have to cut back on decarbonization plans. That would be a massive mistake. Policy experts and industry analysts correctly argue that in the long run, Covid-19 will accelerate the adoption of renewables because they provide greater protection from energy shocks and cleaner energy at lower costs, even despite governments’ huge fossil fuel subsidies.
As Washington adopts massive economic stimulus measures to save the U.S. and global economy, we call on the U.S. and governments around the world to seize this opportunity to act in the public interest by including support for renewables, rather than make what for many would be literally a fatal mistake in bailing out the highly polluting oil, shale and coal industries.
The coronavirus epidemic shows that now, more than ever, investment in renewable energy generation and storage technologies is needed to give homes, hospitals, businesses and government agencies reliable energy supplies during a crisis, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and help protect the economy, environment and public health.
New York Gov. Cuomo sees this. Just last month (March 13), the governor announced details for 21 large-scale renewable energy projects to provide power to 350,000 New Yorkers, which will spur $2.5 Billion in investment, create 2,000 jobs, cutting carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off the road.
Communities across the country can better withstand local and global crises, as well as save money and reduce climate- and health-harming pollutants, if they can access clean, reliable energy, that can be independent of a centralized grid when it fails.
As the U.S. braces for a surge in coronavirus-infected patients, safe, non-toxic energy storage systems could provide the clean and reliable electrical power that hospitals, clinics, mobile medical units and shelters need to protect patients, healthcare providers, medicines and medical equipment.
Traditional diesel generators, by contrast, spew exhaust that’s hazardous to anyone who breathes it, especially to those infected by COVID-19, which attacks the lungs and respiratory system.
As our political leaders inject trillions of dollars into the economy, let’s make sure they protect the public and the economy in lasting ways that can provide greater resiliency and build a better future – before it’s too late.