Solar energy developers around the world are slowed down by a spike in the costs of materials, labour and transporting as the world economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic (read more about that here). . An Economic Times India article suggests the zero-emissions solar energy market is showing slower growth at a time when world governments are ramping up their efforts against climate change, and marks a reversal to growth after a decade of lowering prices. One of the greatest challenges to solar energy manufacturers is the soaring cost of steel, which has risen three times in the past year, not to mention the unsteady cost of transportation and the uncertainty of when materials will become available for manufacturing to continue. The pandemic has caused inflation to occur at a staggering rate and many industries are struggling to keep up.
What does this mean for climate change
An online poll by Power Technology readers showed that 54.1% believe a pandemic induced recession could hurt renewable energy development, which in turn, puts us further behind in addressing the climate crisis. With the Covid-19 outbreak hitting the global supply chain and single companies alike, renewable energy growth is expected to slow, with projects consistently being delayed or cancelled as a result. The consequence of this is globally the fight against climate change as per the Paris Agreement, will be put on hold for an extended period of time. While the pandemic has forced us to slow down, the rate of climate change has not. A Time article explains that “Every day, due to rising water levels, some part of the world must evacuate to higher ground.”
Demand for solar energy
The demand for solar energy is higher now than ever before. More countries are facing longer, hotter summers and the energy source itself can easily be distributed and rerouted into national electricity lines as Australia has already done. The booming demand for solar energy is however only as in demand as it is available and affordable. With the rising costs of solar energy materials and installations, more and more companies and individuals alike could turn it away for a longer period of time than what the earth can afford. Without renewable energy sources like solar energy, the world depends heavily on non-renewable sources like oil and coal. If we don’t act now, Octopus Energy predicts that global oil deposits will deplete by 2052 and coal and natural gasses are expected to last only until 2060 (read more here).
How the pandemic has affected global warming and in turn, slowed down supply chains
Global logistics industry leaders, EY, conducted a survey on the impact of Covid-19 on the industry and its effects on the job market. The report comes as no surprise that only 2% of companies surveyed stated they were fully prepared for the pandemic. 72% of those affected reported experiencing serious disruptions, while 17% reported significant disruptions (55% reported mostly negative effects). The graph provided by EY illustrates this finding.
Although many employees were requested to work remotely, others – especially in factory settings – had to make new arrangements to ensure physical distancing and were required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). High-tech industries and industrial products manufacturers are investing heavily in technology to limit employee exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, 47% of all companies reported workforce disruptions due to the pandemic. These are just a few examples of changes affecting supply chains across various sectors. Thus it’s unsurprising that more logistics companies are looking to further empower their labourers through reskilling to help the workforce readjust to the new normal the pandemic has forced the industry into. A Price Waterhouse and Cooper report from April 2020 suggests that there has been a global decline in transport activity and this in itself has forced many workers in the supply chain to be jobless for months on end due to lockdowns. However, in 2021 it is evident that the demand for at-home deliveries has increased.
The Covid 19 pandemic has put immense strain on the world’s resources. Solar energy production has not been spared. We are already in a race against time to reverse global warming. We must seek ways to shorten supply chains by sourcing locally available materials to create renewable energy sources that are sustainable and more robust against something as unpredictable as a global pandemic. Who knows when the next one could hit.