facebook linkedin twitter

The Coronavirus Is Taking A Toll On The Renewable Energy Sector

May 19, 2020 by Gaspard Le Dem

The natural world has gotten a boost from the coronavirus pandemic. 

With fewer cars on the roads and planes in the sky, the world has benefited from clearer skies and an unprecedented decline in carbon emissions. 

Daily CO2 emissions decreased by 17% between January and early April compared to average 2019 levels, according to new research by Nature Climate Change.

But the renewable energy sector hasn’t been so lucky. Clean energy — from electric vehicles to wind and solar power — has taken a hit during the crisis. 

According to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data by BW Research, nearly 600,000 workers in clean energy jobs filed for unemployment benefits in April and March — a 17% drop in clean energy employment.

The layoffs have impacted the industry across many occupations, from the energy efficiency sector to renewable power generation and clean vehicle manufacturing.

California — where many of the nation’s clean energy jobs are located — has seen the largest number of layoffs, losing 77,900 jobs or 15% of its clean energy workforce, according to BW Research.

Fearing COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace, manufacturing plants that produce everything from electric vehicles to wind turbine parts have been forced to close. 

Last month, a wind power facility in Grand Forks, North Dakota was shut down after eight workers tested positive for coronavirus. In California, Tesla was forced to suspend production at its Flagship Fremont factory for weeks after a contentious back-and-forth with local authorities who had imposed a health order.

Global electric vehicle sales are expected to drop 43% to 1.3 million in 2020, according to a report by Wood Mackenzie, a market research and consulting company. “The uncertainty and fear created by the outbreak has made consumers less inclined to adopt a new technology,” said Ram Chandrasekaran, an analyst for the firm. 

The economic impact of the pandemic has also forced renewable companies to put major projects on hold as financing streams dry up. In Texas, Swinerton Renewable Energy had to delay building a $109 million solar farm that was expected to generate 400 construction jobs and power around 25,000 homes. 

Smaller companies have also experienced a slowdown in business during the pandemic. Demand for residential solar panel installations has plummeted as cities and counties issue shelter-in-place orders. 

Residential solar company Sungevity announced that it would lay off close to 400 employees in March, citing “business conditions and the COVID-19 outbreak.” In April, the Solar Energy Industry Association estimated that the U.S. solar industry could lose up to half of its 250,000-strong workforce. 

In The News

Health

Voting

Energy

August 3, 2021
by Reece Nations
Carbon Capture Credit Grabs Bipartisan Support

WASHINGTON -- Sens. Michael Crapo, R-Idaho, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., proposed legislation on Thursday that would grant tax credits to... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Sens. Michael Crapo, R-Idaho, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., proposed legislation on Thursday that would grant tax credits to energy companies innovating carbon capture or energy storage tech. The legislation, entitled the “Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act of 2021,” would establish investment credits for qualified... Read More

July 23, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Ohio Utility Settles for $230 Million After Bribing State Officials

Electric utility company FirstEnergy Corp. agreed to settle a Justice Department complaint Thursday by paying $230 million to avoid a... Read More

Electric utility company FirstEnergy Corp. agreed to settle a Justice Department complaint Thursday by paying $230 million to avoid a federal wire fraud conspiracy charge. Company officials admitted they conspired with former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder to pay millions of dollars to his political nonprofit... Read More

Electrify America to Double EV Charging Stations by 2025

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Electrify America, an electric vehicle charging network funded with money paid by Volkswagen as punishment... Read More

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Electrify America, an electric vehicle charging network funded with money paid by Volkswagen as punishment for its emissions cheating scandal, says it plans to more than double its number of charging stations throughout the United States and Canada. The expansion will... Read More

July 19, 2021
by TWN Staff
Poll Shows Two-Thirds of Voters Support Investments in Zero-Emission School Buses

The American Lung Association has released new poll results showing that a majority (68%) of American voters – across all... Read More

The American Lung Association has released new poll results showing that a majority (68%) of American voters – across all major demographic groups – support Congress investing in zero-emission school buses for children nationwide. The poll findings are released as Congress considers a major infrastructure package,... Read More

July 15, 2021
by Dan McCue
Senators Push Bipartisan Bill to Make Ethanol Blends Available Year-Round

WASHINGTON - In the wake of a federal appeals court ruling striking restrictions on the summertime sale of ethanol blended... Read More

WASHINGTON - In the wake of a federal appeals court ruling striking restrictions on the summertime sale of ethanol blended fuel, a bipartisan trio of senators is seeking to ensure that low-carbon, 15% ethanol fuel blends are available for purchase in all U.S. markets, year-round. The... Read More

July 13, 2021
by TWN Staff
New Report Shows Biden’s Energy Policies Could Save Lives and Money

A new report from Harvard University, Syracuse University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Resources for the Future looks at the... Read More

A new report from Harvard University, Syracuse University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Resources for the Future looks at the energy, economic, environmental, and health outcomes of an illustrative Clean Energy Standard design that reaches 80% clean electricity by 2030 (80x30). The analysis shows that achieving... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top