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Renewable energy, a post-pandemic option

Now, when the World Bank predicts that the global economy will experience a drastic 5.2% contraction this year, after Covid-19 plunged it into the worst recession since World War II, boosting renewable energy seems to be the answer to meeting the expectations of economic growth, environmental care and energy security.


Photo by Geralt Altmann.

Ivette Fernández


That the development of renewable energy sources is now not only possible but also invaluable (to the detriment of the burning of fossil fuels and in defence of social and economic sustainability) is a thesis increasingly defended by organisations related to the subject.

A recent study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) shows that more than half of these sources added in 2019 achieved lower costs than the new and more profitable coal plants. The research evaluates that on average solar PV and onshore wind energies cost less than many existing coal plants to run, and the results of energy tenders show that this trend is accelerating.

Replacing the more expensive 500 gigawatts (GW) of coal with photovoltaic solar energy and onshore wind power next year would cut energy system costs by as much as $ 23 billion each year, the analysis added.

Likewise, analysis also shows that this measure would reduce annual emissions by around 1.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 5% of the total gas emitted into the atmosphere in 2019.

It would also generate an investment stimulus of 940 billion dollars, which is equivalent to around 1% of the world Gross Domestic Product.

Another advantage of this type of energy is that the same amount of money invested in it today produces more new capacity than it would have a decade ago.

An equally recent investigation published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), concluded that renewable energy capacity, except for large hydroelectric dams, grew by 184 GW during 2019.

According to the organisation, the fall in the costs of clean alternatives offers the opportunity to boost climate action in Covid-19 recovery packages.

Although last year’s addition meant 12% more than the new 2018 capacity, investment in dollars in 2019 was only 1% higher than the previous year, with just over 282 billion dollars, the analysis elaborates.

The electricity costs of the new photovoltaic solar plants in the second half of 2019 were 83% lower than a decade earlier.

“If governments take advantage of the increasingly low price of renewables to put clean energy at the heart of Covid-19’s economic recovery, they can take a big step towards a healthy natural world, which is the best insurance policy against global pandemics,” considers the executive director of the programme, Inger Andersen.

According to the report, the Covid-19 pandemic led to less generation of electricity derived from fossil fuel, caused primarily by liquidity constraints and lack of sales.

It is estimated then that the world demand for coal imports could decrease by 7% by the end of this year due to the combined effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and the harsh competition from gas, the analysis warns.

The capacity to generate jobs that the field of renewable energies has today is important if we take into account the unfortunate number of unemployed people that the passing of the Covid-19 pandemic will leave in the world.

From a statement from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) it appears that wind power generation is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world and could create almost four million direct and indirect jobs.

In addition, it would generate additional annual investments whose lowest amount would exceed 207 billion dollars, provided that wind capacity exceeds two terawatts.

Investments in this type of source, and others that are environmentally-friendly, are vital in creating future infrastructure in search of more resilient and sustainable economies, while providing countries and citizens with more affordable energy, fewer carbon emissions and increased energy security, the information said. (PL)

(Translated by Hannah Phelvin – E-mail: – Photos: Pixabay

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