Renewable energy plays a crucial role in achieving many of the SDGs. SDG 7, in particular, seeks to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. It further sets out to substantially increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the globe. This pandemic and the isolation measures necessary to combat it have generated enormous changes and pressures on the health system, everyday life, and economic activity in countries worldwide. These changes also have the potential to impact countries achievements of Agenda 2030. Unfortunately, it has not been different for Brazil. Different sectors in Brazil are experiencing the effects of this pandemic, particularly the renewable energy sector.
Brazil as a nation is known for its great share of renewable energy in its matrix in the industrialized world and as a driver for the use of cleaner energy resources. Bearing this in mind, it is therefore fundamental to investigate and work towards understanding the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic will have on Brazilian efforts to achieve SDG 7.
The pandemic brought significant consequences for the energy industry at large, energy security and clean energy transitions. In the energy at large, the decline in economic activity due to several containment policies has deeply impacted energy demand. Most companies are losing substantial revenues as they are being hit twice: first by lower demand for their products and again by lower prices for these products. This situation however differs across sectors for instance, the residential segment had increased power use against a drop in educational and commercial buildings.
For clean energy transition, all fuels except renewables are expected to experience their greatest contractions in demand for decades. The demand for renewables is expected to increase mainly because of 2 reasons, due to their preferential access to many power systems, and because the low operating costs. Biofuels, however, are likely to see demand decline, directly impacted by lower transport activity. Although renewable share is expected to increase, a sustainable pathway calls for continuous efforts and commitment since cheaper fossil fuels can slow consumers' uptake of fuel-efficient vehicles, biofuels, and electric vehicles.
Other than affecting countless lives, Covid-19 has also unleashed a devastating blow to the global economy, disrupting supply chains, choking off energy demand and shrinking down the market for transport fuel. On a global scale, the overall global financial crisis may also lead to decreased investments in the renewable sector, harming attainment of SDG 7 on access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all. Based on this reality, Brazil has designed an economic stimulus package. The design of this package is aimed at accelerating energy transition and achievement of SDG 7.
An integrated approach tackling all these crucial issues will not only have a positive impact on the country’s renewable energy availability, but also on other environmental fronts, such as climate change, air pollution, waste management and so on. It is the time to rethink our behavior towards our environment, so that a positive impact can come from such a bleak global episode.