The world went into a standstill early in 2020, as multiple countries placed lockdown restrictions on citizens in a bid to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Energy for health centres and for homes has been a necessity in the battle against the disease in most areas of the world. However, there are still hundreds of millions of people in the world without access to critical electricity. The infographic attachment shares some facts and figures on global access to reliable electricity.
The energy transition and increased uptake of renewables form part of a global, far-sighted investment plan that could help drag the world out of the mire the pandemic will inevitably leave behind. Even in countries where access to electricity is taken for granted by all, recovery plans that include clean energy are essential to meet long term sustainability and climate change goals.
Duncan Clark, US Cleantech‘s Head of European Business Operations, supports entrepreneurs and scientists conducting research into cleaner technologies that could be part of the process of change. The embedded short video defines the term cleantech as used in finance.
Recovery measures put into place after COVID-19 could result in lasting changes in the global energy mix.
For investors, renewables currently represent one of the most resilient parts of the energy sector. Although almost no industry has been unaffected by the global health crisis, investment in renewables now could help boost economies, create jobs and build resilient societies and economies.
Experts predict that each $1 million in investment in energy efficiency will create approximately 10 new jobs, while each $1 million invested in energy flexibility or renewables could create up to 25 new jobs.
Job creation is going to be an essential part of the COVID-19 recovery plan worldwide; figures from the UN at the height of lockdown in April 2020 predicted the loss of 195 million jobs globally in the second quarter of the year alone.
Accelerating the energy transition could create around 5.5 million new jobs by 2023 when compared to continuing with current plans.
Clean Energy for Health
In countries where access to electricity is limited, the introduction of clean sources of energy can be the difference between life and death. Introducing technologies such as solar power to communities that are not currently on the electrical grid can power not only homes, but health centres and hospitals.
COVID-19 has been shown to be most lethal to people with underlying respiratory disorders. Introducing cleaner energy sources reduces respiratory disorder prevalence. An estimated 3.8 million people experience respiratory illnesses related to exposure to smoke from inefficient fuels used in open fires or cooking stoves.
Introducing energy efficient stoves and cleaner fuels could save millions of lives and prevent billions from potential future illness due to smoke exposure.
Social distancing and enforced isolation can have and has had a negative impact on the mental health of many people. However, use of technology helps people to maintain contact with loved ones and avoid developing depression and other mental disorders resulting from the pressures of being isolated.
Technology also facilitates many of the measures that developed countries have put in place that help normalise a new routine, such as working from home or receiving an education with help online.
Introducing clean, renewable energy sources to countries or regions that are not on the electrical grid or that only have access to unreliable energy at present helps to make social distancing policies viable across more of the world.
The PDF attachment shows other ways in which technology has made social distancing viable.