As the world transitions towards a ‘new normal’, the immediate priority has been to save as many lives as possible and now governments are starting to structure the stimulus and recovery packages to help economies. The Renewable Energy sector is perceived to be one of the few growth sectors this year, at least in Spain. The goals to meet emissions targets are still in place and despite all the current uncertainty, Renewable Energy still remains the best long-term solution to provide new energy cleanly and cheaply.
During the lockdown period across Europe, the demand for energy fell. This also meant that carbon emissions decreased and many operators were able to have grids operate with 70% or more of the energy being generated by Renewable sources. The strict measures applied by Spain during the first weeks of lockdown saw power demand fall by 16.7% over a four week period and a decrease in carbon emissions of 27.4% per kWh. This was thanks to a large part of the power being supplied by zero-carbon sources of energy.
Taking into account that residential installations have not been viewed by the government in Spain as ‘essential work’ and installers of Renewable Energy solutions have been unable to carry out work in people’s homes, the growth of the Renewables market will be slowed. However, with electricity prices in Spain increasing 60% in the last 10 years*, Renewable Energy solutions continue to offer a good return on investment.
To ensure the Renewable Energy sector is able to continue to grow, it is important that investments continue in research and development so that new products continue to come to market. One of the most interesting areas of product development is around Hydrogen Solar Panels which collect the sun’s energy by day and by night convert this electricity into hydrogen. Various teams are looking at how energy obtained from the sun can be made more efficient so that as much energy can still be generated on cloudy days and during the winter months. The Solar Hydrogen Hybrid Panels are a solution scientists have come up with to be able to provide electricity by day and supply heat by night.
Another team of scientists in California are working on the concept of a Photovoltaic Cell that can work at night. As opposed to a regular Solar Cell that generates power by absorbing sunlight, which causes a voltage to appear across the device and for current to flow, the new type of cell would emit light and the current and voltage flow in the opposite direction. Both generate power, but as well as working at night, the new cell would potentially also work during the day if direct sunlight was filtered or blocked or the cell was pointed away from the sun. Research into this technology is continuing. As long as funds remain available to invest in Renewable Energy, the ‘new normal’ can be both energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
*Source: Union de Uniones de Agricultures y Ganaderos