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Covid-19 A Game Changer For Energy?

The World Energy Council (WEC) has today released the results of two surveys that investigate the impacts of Covid-19 on the world and its energy systems.

WEC’s surveys, on Business Impact and Preparedness and Future Outlook, were aimed at addressing how can we emerge from Covid-19 as a more resilient society and accelerate the pace of successful global energy transition.

BusinessNZ Energy Council (BEC) Executive Director Tina Schirr says the results can help energy leaders better prepare for the wider and longer-term impacts, including structural shifts in energy, society, economy, finance and trade systems.

Ms Schirr says 96% of energy businesses have been affected by Covid-19 but avoided disruptions despite weaker demand and changes in fuel prices to ensure uninterrupted supply for billions of people around the world.

Looking ahead, the WEC has developed a set of four plausible and alternative medium-term scenarios for the Covid-19 recovery: Pause, Rewind, Fast Forward, and Stop and Re-record.

Responses suggest that the impacts of and responses to the Covid-19 crisis might be a game changer in the energy transition - emphasising the need for resilience, re-localisation and dealing with the social issues of the transition.

While some respondents do not see Covid-19 as a pivot for accelerating the energy transition, majority expect that it will play an important role in stimulating community-scale actions, redirecting attention to the need for dynamic resilience capabilities, prompting a rethink of economics and increasing attention to the social agenda.

Opinions differ as to whether a society will bounce back after the Covid-19 crisis. 45% of all respondents expect the greatest impact on society will be in the next 1-3 months, while half of respondents expect it to be later - in 6-12 months.

Most respondents (70%) do not expect a quick recovery and indicate that it will take more than 12-months or at least 6-months to get back to normal.

There are split views on the outlook for decarbonisation of energy systems - some respondents anticipate potential delays as governments respond to pressures to restart growth by rolling back action on climate goals.

Others anticipate, however, that the current crisis will accelerate decarbonisation as governments increase direct investment to energy systems..

The rapid spread of the pandemic has highlighted a global interdependency and the inter-connectivity of supply-chains, demonstrating a new imperative for new and effective collaborative solutions, supported by digitalisation.

Ms Schirr says this was one of the key takeaways from BEC’s 2060 Energy Scenarios.

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