COMMUNICATION | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0361.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Economics Keywords: renewable energy; decarbonization; fossil fuels; energy transition; COVID-19; sustainability
Online: 16 July 2020 (13:41:22 CEST)
The measures for tackling the COVID-19 may shrink the global GDP by approximately 6% in 2020, the deepest post-war recession. As a result, the global energy demand declined by 3.8% in the first quarter of 2020. Concerning fossil fuels, this conjuncture reduced the demand drastically and collapsed the prices to historic levels. Despite the general market disruptions, renewable energy sources (RES) seem to be more resilient to the crisis because they are the only sources that will grow in demand in 2020, driven by priority dispatch. The RES´s significant growth in cumulative installed capacity in the last two decades and the significant cost reductions of RES and energy storage technologies are positive signs towards better market conditions for the global energy transition. Currently, the crisis is seen by international agencies and transition scholars as an opportunity to advance a renewable-based energy transformation. Nevertheless, this article aims at caution about another possibility: if societal changes are not urgently implemented, the crisis may weaken the global energy transition. This article examines this last possibility from a three-level perspective: 1) post-COVID economic recovery, 2) low oil and natural gas prices and competitiveness of alternative sources and, 3) reorganization of the world energy market and the OPEC+. This paper exists to stimulate debate.