THE DRAMATIC IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON OUR ENVIRONMENT
In just a few months, global demand for energy has fallen off a cliff. In the first quarter of 2020, demand declined by 3.8%, with most of the impact felt in March when strict lockdown measures were enforced across Europe, North America and elsewhere. The impact of this change in lifestyle is estimated to result in a fall in global carbon emissions of around 4-8% in 2020 according to Carbon Brief.
But what exactly has led to these impacts?
Firstly, the lockdown imposed in the UK and other countries led to a drastic reduction in travel of all types and a reduction in energy intensive industries. While this is now increasing again, it remains well below the levels seen prior to the pandemic.
In addition, the lockdowns have led to a substantial drop in energy demand, with levels currently at between 15 and 20% below averages for the time of year in the UK.
These factors have been compounded by the sunniest spring on record leading to a substantial boost in solar PV generation. In fact, the month leading up to 10th May 2020 was Britain’s first coal-free month since the industrial revolution – with 700 consecutive hours of green electricity generation.
How had lockdown affected the carbon footprint of UK electricity generation?
In the settlement period between 12th and 24th May, demand on the Transmission System slipped to 14.5GW, with an increase in wind and solar generation particularly over the Spring bank holiday weekend generating 3.7GW and 8.7GW respectively.
On 24th May, electrical generation was the greenest it has ever been, causing a record low for carbon intensity. On that day, each unit of electricity was generated by as little as 46g of CO2, compared to the 940g it takes a coal-fired power station to generate the same.
But what does that mean? It takes a 10-year-old tree one year to absorb 20,000g of CO2 – so it would take over a fortnight to absorb the carbon released into the atmosphere for each unit of electricity generated from coal, and less than a day to absorb that released through renewable energy.
Is this reduction in carbon emissions likely to continue?
While most of the country remains at home, there is little to suggest that energy demand will be significantly increasing again soon. Renewable generation is likely to remain high particularly as we head into the summer season therefore, we predict carbon intensity records to continue to tumble.
Plus, we expect the demand for generators to come online in the near future, with developers pushing ahead with battery storage, Electric Vehicle charging, subsidy free solar PV and wind, in spite of the risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, and showing a healthy appetite for new development opportunities.
However, experts have warned that pollution will soon bounce back without some form of climate action and the pandemic eases.
If you’d like to find about more about renewable energy opportunities for land and property owners, get in touch with Clare Davey on 07584 682038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.