Back in June, Global Solar Council had a webinar about how to "build back better" with the contribution of solar energy in the post-COVID-19 world.
The webinar hosted many experts, all agreed on the bright future of solar energy despite the initial setbacks that occurred due to the pandemic. In this article, I summarize the insights from the webinar and its press release, according to which solar energy is and will be an essential component in “green deals”. Three points are especially remarkable and rightful, and they pretty much embody the experts’ common grounds:
1. Solar energy is a win-win solution to build back better and drive decarbonization thanks to its low cost and potential to create more jobs than fossil-fuel industry. Garrett-Peltier's study suggests that every $1 million invested in clean energy infrastructure generates 7.49 full-time jobs in renewables, 7.72 in energy efficiency and only 2.65 in fossil fuels (1).
2. “The future is solar!” Prof. Jeffrey Sachs tells the Global Solar Council webinar as pandemic makes long-term policy direction even more straightforward.
3. Years of technological progress and plunging costs make solar PV the natural solution for post-COVID-19 “green deals”.
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and UN SDG Advocate, says: “The future is solar – this is without question. By 2050 we will be in a decarbonized world economy, and solar is the most plentiful and lowest-cost source of energy. COVID-19 accelerates the change, even though it brings short-term complications, and makes two things absolutely clear: firstly, we can’t ignore reality as we ignored the reality of pandemics, so we can’t ignore the reality of climate change; secondly, we are going to face high unemployment and solar will create a lot of jobs, a lot more than the fossil-fuel economy.”
Gianni Chianetta, Chairman of the Global Solar Council, points out: “Solar PV is the perfect candidate to lead a green recovery post-COVID-19, generating much-needed investments and new jobs while ensuring a climate-friendly future for all at a lower cost than other energy sources. In this context, we can stop talking about an energy ‘transition’ and develop an ‘exit strategy’ from a fossil-fuel economy that perversely we are still subsidizing.”
José Donoso, Director General of Unión Española Fotovoltaica (UNEF) and Chair-elect of the Global Solar Council, comments: “The Spanish PV industry is ideally placed to play a key role in the economic recovery of our country and in meeting the objectives defined by the NECP, but urgent measures need to be put in place to minimize the negative impact of the COVID19 pandemic. For utility-scale projects, new auctions based on a fixed price need to be carried out as soon as possible, a measure that must be paired with the streamlining of administrative processes. As for self-consumption, the action is more urgent, and the reactivation plan should include a temporary tax incentive plan, the reduction of the fixed component of the electricity tariff and the acceleration of administrative procedures.”
All speakers in the Global Solar Council webinar agreed on the need to end fossil fuel subsidies to accelerate decarbonization strategies. The strong emphasis was that humanity cannot ignore climate change, as well as pandemics which likely occur in future too. Thus, the transition to renewables must be completed urgently, with solar energy playing an essential role in building back better – an economy that does not rely on fossil-fuels and making the clean energy that we all desperately need more accessible.
The slides from the webinar and a recording are available to download and view at the following link: https://www.globalsolarcouncil.org/pages/webinars/
Reference: Garrett-Peltier,H. (2017), ‘Green versus brown: Comparing the employment impacts of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and fossil fuels using an input-output model,’ Economic Modelling, 61, 439–447.