Cheap oil? A pandemic? No big deal for renewable energy, experts say

Source: Linda Givetesh, NBC, May 2, 2020

When the coronavirus pandemic began to sweep through Spain, workers on the 500-megawatt Núñez de Balboa solar park didn’t stay at home while the country went into lockdown.

Instead, they donned protective gear and made other safety adjustments to bring the almost 4 square miles of panels online. On April 6, the array — the largest in Europe, with the capacity to supply power to 250,000 people — was connected to the grid.

The grid, run by Iberdrola, a multinational energy provider headquartered in Spain, is just one of many renewable energy projects that have pressed forward despite the coronavirus outbreak and a sharp decline in the price of oil, which remains central to the energy sector.

It’s a positive sign for an industry that only in recent years has become a viable competitor to the traditional fossil fuels that had dominated the energy sector in past decades. Now, experts say, the renewable energy market is stable enough to weather short-term fluctuations and may even be poised to experience a boost from efforts to restart economies around the world once the pandemic subsides.

“What is clear now is we need jobs and activity,” said Xabier Viteri, director of the renewable energy business for Iberdrola. “Because renewables are competitive, it is a mature technology. This is actually the kind of activity that you can do straightforward, immediately.”

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