Renewable energy is in the forefront of people’s minds as the world begins to ease lockdown restrictions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Power technology has listed the top 5 terms tweeted in May 2020 based on data from GlobalData’s Influencer Platform with renewable energy taking the lead at 660 Twitter mentions. Twitter has tracked these terms which are the trending industry discussions on Twitter by key individuals (influencers).
Topics that were particularly popular in May were discussions around how crucial it was for the world to rely more on wind, solar, hydro and the harnessing of renewable energy for electricity generation in a post-Covid world and less on fossil fuels. According to an article that was shared by the environmentalist, author and educator, Bill McKibben, a report at the time suggested that renewable energy sources like solar and wind, produced more electricity than coal every single day for 40 days straight in the US. The report shone a light on the shift from coal to renewables due to warm weather, falling gas prices and greater renewable capacity.
According to Mike Hudema, a climate campaigner, EU countries such as Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands have been working together on a major project to build an island dedicated to providing renewable energy to approximately 80 million people. The project will involve the implementation of wind turbines at sea along with solar farms on the island with the aim of connecting the UK, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark to generate maximum renewable energy.
Mark Z Jacobsen, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, believes that renewable energy will be the only way forward in a post-pandemic world. Changing the world’s energy map works out to be much cheaper than dealing with the ever-increasing natural disasters caused by climate change not to mention the cost of treating the diseases it causes.
Next up was the term ‘clean energy’ which had 573 Twitter mentions. Generating clean energy through solar innovations such as solar panels on millions of homes and public buildings and solar parks was a favourite topic of discussion during this month. People realised that the benefits were not only in producing clean energy but in creating thousands of jobs. To give an example, according to an article shared by Mike Hudema, Egypt was building the world’s biggest solar parks providing clean energy to 320,000 Egyptians as well as creating jobs for thousands of people.
Data, shared by Dr Thomas Hillig, an energy consultant, on the estimated number of premature deaths avoided due to lower air pollutant exposure during the coronavirus lockdown was also discussed. Dr. Hillig referred to this as a side effect of the pandemic illustrating the point with the statistic of 11,000 fewer deaths in Europe because of the cleaner air. He said that the areas which we should be looking to improve are cycle infrastructure, e-mobility, and clean energy.
Meanwhile, Fatih Birol, an economist and energy expert, tweeted on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the global energy sector citing the World Energy Investment 2020 report. The report analysed how investment trends across the sector had been affecting clean energy transitions and energy security.
The term ‘climate action’ had 550 Twitter mentions. Popularly discussed topics related to climate action covered the funding that had been set aside for climate action, financial institutions exiting thermal coal and the fact that 2020 had been earmarked as a critical year for climate action. Investment to achieve climate targets was also a hot topic. At the same time Denmark was proposing 2 huge energy islands according to an article shared by Assad Razzouk, a clean energy entrepreneur and investor.
Another article shared by Chris Fox, a climate change activist revealed how coal is losing its financing from big banks such as Westpac Banking Corp. Plans were announced by the bank to exit a thermal coal project in Australia as part of its climate action strategy.
Fatih Birol re-tweeted the point that even though renewable energy investments were delivering better results than fossil fuels in countries like, the US, UK, and Europe the amount of investment was not going to be enough to diminish the effects of climate change. In order to limit global warming to within two degrees Celsius by 2100, countries would have to double their annual investments in renewables to approximately $660bn he further noted.
The term ‘energy transition’ had 481 Twitter mentions. There was much discussion around how energy transition is being accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic and in particular how the turmoil in oil markets will influence the clean energy transition. According to an article shared by Ed Crooks, vice chair, Americas, the historic pause for oil demand across the globe will affect clean energy transition efforts. The need for a new financing model for battery energy storage systems was highlighted. Battery energy storage systems have to be in place in order to reduce energy demand and improve renewables integration if we are going to be able to reduce our carbon footprint.
Arik Ring an energy engineering expert, further tweeted about the importance of solar energy in the future. He shared an article on how eco-friendly solar window panels, can convert ambient light to electricity. These solar panels were developed by Ubiquitous Energy and are designed to deal with the problems of traditional panels such as lack of space.
President and CEO of the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), Julia Hamm, also discussed how energy transition is being expedited by the Coronavirus pandemic. She talked about how the lockdown is radically reducing the use of coal and maintaining the use of renewables. The current situation was giving the world a glimpse of how the ‘grid of the future’ might look she noted. Essentially both solar and wind are producing a larger share of power and are not being detrimentally affected by the crisis.
Finally, the term ‘sustainability’ had 472 Twitter mentions. Another hot topic in the month of May was how social media focus had been shifted towards the sustainable energy sector. Additionally, the response of governments and the integration of energy and sustainability issues into recovery plans and solar upgrades was much discussed. The economist and energy expert, Fatih Birol, explained how integrating energy and sustainability issues was critical in order to accelerate clean energy transitions. He added that the International Energy Agency (IEA) are planning to provide a report on sustainable recovery and policy advice.
Dr Thomas Hillig, agreed that Covid-19 had shifted the social media focus on to the sustainable energy sector. Adaptability will be vital as travel bans loosen up, with mid-term marketing and communication budgets of most energy companies moving to extremely adaptable social media actions.
Mike Hudema shared an article about the Copenhagen International School in Denmark. The school is covered in solar panels and is thought to be the largest solar panel façade in the world. The article highlights how it was built with 12,000 solar panels on all sides which can power half the school in a year. This demonstrates sustainability and mindful living while also generating clean energy the article further noted.
According to a team of researchers, tweets could one day help policy makers and energy companies to communicate in near real-time to help customers make better sustainable energy choices.
Somayeh Asadi, assistant professor of architectural engineering, Penn State said that a study of Twitter data from users in Alaska, has shown how people’s opinions can be tracked to indicate changes in their attitude to renewable energy over time, as well revealing what forms of renewable energy they find more acceptable.
“What this means is that if we can understand people’s perceptions of renewable energy in specific regions, maybe we can use this information to educate those people about certain types of renewable energy. This could be very useful for policy makers, energy companies and governments.”