Germany’s environmental minister Svenja Schulze has suggested that “green stimulus packages” for climate action could assist the economic recovery of countries during the fallout from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
She is calling for the German government to redirect funds to renewable energy, so that climate action becomes a way of stimulating new job creation, funneling money back into the supply chain and sustainably reviving the economy, instead of getting lost amid the mass panic governments are currently facing.
In the United Kingdom, the country’s biggest green energy companies are also investing billions of pounds into wind farms, hoping this will have the same impact.
For Eva Almašiová, Head of PR at Slovakian renewable energy startup FUERGY, now is a great time for governments to redirect their funds towards a transition to renewable energy.
In fact, she says, they should take inspiration from the way we have seen the world’s polluted skies clear up over the past few months — the number of vehicles on our roads has drastically decreased, in some countries by up to 73% — and work towards keeping them clear.
Annual carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning, for example, have also dropped by a record 5.5-5.7%, the World Meteorological Association reported.
“In order to keep the skies clear we need to ensure that once we get back to normal, we will be able to quickly replace fossil fuel technologies,” said Almašiová.
“This requires big investments into infrastructure as well. That is why we should start now”, she added.
Excess energy produced in lockdown
With many factories and office buildings closed down during lockdown with staff working from home, non-renewable energy retailers — who usually buy energy in advance — have now been left with lots of excess energy, which they are now selling back to the grid for a lower price, Almašiová explained.
Instead of wasting money on non-renewable sources such as coal to produce energy — a model she points out is “not working” — she suggests governments use this same money to invest in renewable energy and, at the same time, reduce carbon emissions.
FUERGY’s customers — mostly businesses — are also using less renewable energy at this time, which means they are also generating excess energy. However, what makes a difference is how renewables are able to store that excess energy, rather than letting it devalue.
“We’re wasting resources and we don’t have to,” said Almašiová.
What FUERGY does is to use an AI powered energy storage solution to help customers optimize their energy consumption, making their renewable energy usage as efficient as possible.
Communities will be stronger
For Almašiová, the way populations and groups of people have come together to help each other during the global pandemic has brought a whole new meaning to the word “community,” which she used to find an objective term.
FUERGY’s business model — which encourages its customers to sell their excess energy to members of their own community instead of back to the grid at a lower price — relies on the concept, like other facets of the sharing economy.
This way, energy becomes more sustainable and cheaper for communities.
“I never imagined the amount of solidarity,” she said, explaining how the global response to the pandemic has restored her faith in humanity.
Now people know how to come together in times of need, Almašiová hopes they will be able to do the same for the climate.
What’s stopping them?
“All you need is proof of the efficiency of the product,” said Almašiová, explaining that lockdown had given her team the chance to work on providing this proof.
Throughout lockdown, while business has been slow and installations delayed, her team has been working on several projects that explore pairing renewable energy with batteries in order to optimise the smart charging of energy storage with solar energy, as well as using the battery to provide ancillary services to the power grid.
The team expects the results of these projects to be ready in approximately one month.
While these are both cost-saving solutions, the price of renewable energy sources and batteries must continue to drop in order to incentivise governments across the world to adopt new types of energy.
“The whole energy flow needs to be managed well … and made affordable for people,” Almašiová added, explaining that changing government legislation is the most difficult part.
“Once you make energy sharing a financially attractive solution, you’re done,” she said. “Everyone wins!”
In the long term, however, FUERGY considers its business to be in a safe position amid the economic turmoil that looms.
“We’re lucky to be in the position of being a cost saving solution — which is something that everyone will eventually need.”