Why We Need To Invest In Renewable Energy and Storage Technology Now
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a harsh reminder that we cannot always rely on our centralized systems to deliver goods and services that protect us from shortages, and that we need back-up. People are scrambling for groceries, toilet paper and face masks as supply chains break down. Hospitals and even governments are struggling to get vital medical supplies.
This and other recent crises demonstrate that we need local, alternative sources to make sure that in times of crisis, we can fulfill our basic human needs for food, medicine, jobs – and energy. As policymakers consider additional emergency measures, they need to include support for the renewable energy generation and storage technologies that, during this pandemic and other crises, have and are already helping to save lives, create jobs and modernize our economy.
“Everything works—and will continue to work—as long as we have electricity,” Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for President Reagan, wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “It’s what keeps the lights on, the oxygen flowing, the information going. Everything is the grid, the grid, the grid.”
But when the centralized grid goes down, what can protect the people, businesses and hospitals relying on it? Distributed, customer-sited energy storage and renewable generation creates the community-based resiliency and security we need, while also creating jobs and reducing atmospheric CO2 levels behind climate change.
“Human contact is restricted, there are a lot of people ill, the hospitals are overflowing. The last thing anyone would want to worry about is the availability of power supply,” Shashank Pande of Siemens Digital Grid told Microgrid Knowledge. “Microgrids are especially important from the resiliency standpoint in this situation.”
Investment in Clean Energy is Key to Economic Recovery
For several years now, the renewable energy and storage industry has been creating jobs at a more robust rate than any other major sector of the economy, including oil and gas. Now, amid the Covid-19 crisis, restoring federal and state support for renewables – not just the millions in subsidies dedicated to fossil fuels year over year – is critical to help accelerate that job growth, which is so crucial now for our economic recovery, as well as the modernization of our energy infrastructure and the resilience necessary to better protect the public in both the near and the long term.
Renewables didn’t make it into the $2T CARES Act, nor into the nearly $1T in additional emergency stimulus. But it would be in the public interest for policymakers to include them in any follow-up legislation, including state aid and infrastructure bills that President Trump and Congressional Democrats have discussed. Based on the economics and data alone, support for the renewable energy industry should not be relegated to a partisan debate, but rather be recognized as a primary solution to our economic recovery, job creation, energy resiliency and rising CO2 levels. The EU just passed a stimulus package that includes approximately US $572BN support for renewables and Biden, as part of his candidacy platform for President, just announced a $2 Trillion Climate Plan. Let’s hope that the current administration takes notice of these types of initiatives and follows suit in the Second Stimulus package currently being debated.
Powering Essential Services & Infrastructure with Renewables & Energy Storage
Since energy has been deemed essential during this Covid-19 crisis, we in the renewable and energy storage industry are working harder than ever to provide clean energy security to homeowners, businesses, hospitals and other essential services in the U.S. and around the world.
Despite forecasts that the coronavirus would prompt companies and governments to abandon renewable energy deployments, we and our partners are still seeing strong demand as people recognize that in natural or economic disasters, they need customer-sited renewable energy sources to protect themselves against large centralized delivery system failures.
At SimpliPhi Power, we’ve donated batteries to Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen to help power equipment at pop-up kitchens working with the Red Cross, Los Angeles County, and the LA Unified School District distributing fresh meals to families in need.
We are committed to work with Sesame Solar to power drive-up Medical Response and Testing Nanogrid popup clinics in Michigan. In Brownsville, Texas, we’re working with the Footprint Project and Global Response Management to power a Covid-19 Medical Response Clinic for 3,000 refugees.
Abroad, we’re providing energy storage for 43 microgrids in partnership with EM-ONE Energy Solutions that are energizing medical clinics and hospitals throughout Nigeria, many of which are handling coronavirus patients, tests and treatments. In Haiti, where we also power multiple medical clinics and hospitals, we are developing a Covid-19 response unit.
The Time is Now
As global pandemic continues, and forecasts of a deep recession or even depression mount, now is the time for policymakers everywhere to proactively protect and advance the renewable energy generation and storage we’ll need to create jobs, economic growth and resiliency in disasters.
As our elected officials spend trillions to rescue the economy, they also need to support the renewable energy and storage technologies that keep the lights on, medical devices working, food and supplies moving, and people alive and healthy. They need to analyze the data and financials coming out of this energy sector and stop treating the issue as a political debate between democrats and republicans, irrespective of actual numbers that could – and should – inform their fiscal decisions.
Catherine Von Burg is CEO and President of SimpliPhi Power Inc., a California-based manufacturer of highly safe and efficient energy storage systems that provide backup and primary power to homes, businesses, hospitals, utilities, relief agencies and communities in over 43 countries.