COVID-19 has changed the way we look at many facets of life. From how and where we work to where we go and, in some cases, even what we eat. To say that this seismic shift is anything less than revolutionary would be a gross understatement. For many, this also raises questions regarding how and in what way we will begin to plot and choose our energy future. Will we go back to the ways of the past, with heavy reliance on fossil fuels and other non-renewable sources, or will we plot a new course with renewable source that are good for our environment and our pocketbooks?
COVID-19 and the Energy Environment
COVID-19 brought much of our world’s economic activity to an abrupt halt save for certain essential activities such as medical care, grocery stocking, food delivery, and other services that were crucial to the basic functioning of society. As people stayed home and traveled less, there was a noticeable impact on the ecology and the environment of local areas and globally. Everything from CO2 emissions from air travel and vehicles, both commercial and private, to other sources of emissions and pollution were curtailed dramatically. This began to lead to the clearing of air, water, and other parts of the environment which had previously been adversely impacted by human and industrial activity. Some environmentalists and others celebrated this turn of events.
What Does Less Personal Contact Mean for Clean Energy?
For generations, labor intensive energy sources have been prevalent and cheap ways to provide cars the fuel they need, homes and office buildings the heat and air conditioning they need, and power to an array of other projects that drive our society and consume energy. However, COVID-19 made gathering in one place without proper ventilation and less than six feet apart not only less than hygienic, but potentially life-threatening for those who do. Given the fact that the contagion can not only impact those who are initially exposed but can spread exponentially, these tight conditions are nothing but a breeding ground for potential death or serious injuries, with life-long consequences – which most energy workers do not have the health insurance or personal funds to cover. Personal contact has proven to be arguably more dangerous than the environmental impacts of the energy sources themselves.
Where Does Clean Energy Come In?
Clean energy sources are often not as labor-intensive as other energy source. They don’t require a packed mineshaft with little ventilation, an offshore oil rig, or other close personal contact to the extent or level that other energy sources do. This is a net advantage as the energy sources are not only environmentally friendly, but also qualify for various tax credits at the federal and state level, which can help offset the initial set-up cost or any personnel costs. Additionally, clean energy may now be seen as an appreciating instead of depreciating asset, as there is a finite amount of oil, coal, and other resources but there is an arguably infinite amount of air, water, and sunshine.
Does This Mean Clean Energy Will Be the Norm?
A completely clean energy future is still a long while away. However, given the definite downsides of some legacy energy production processes, some energy producers will be taking a closer look at clean energy now and in the future. Any savvy energy broker should keep an eye out for how this will impact the industry and how this can potentially save clients money.