At the end of last week, prices for May futures of American oil WTI collapsed by 300% and went into the red. Following this, other oil grades sank significantly. May futures were followed by June futures, which, while not as low, are nevertheless minimal. The reason: the economy has frozen due to the epidemic, and oil storage facilities are full. However, at this critical moment for the oil market, it is interesting to look in a different direction, and that is how alternative energy reacts in a crisis. And I must say, the situation is interesting.
The beginning of the “spring of quarantine” coincided with an open confrontation in the oil market. OPEC countries could not agree on the level of production and continued to pump colossal volumes, despite the economy gradually coming to a standstill. Factories ceased production, sending personnel into self-isolation; air travel also fell. The amount of oil became more and more, while the need – less and less. When OPEC was finally able to agree on a record reduction in production, this did not stop the decline. The paradox is that even on the eve of the crisis, such a reduction in prices would have still stimulated enormous demand, while lowering the demand for alternative energy. In this context, it must be asked why investment in long-term projects is considered when one can get rich with cheap oil right now? The answer is that the situation is not so simple.
On average, world consumption has fallen by a record 15%. At the same time, companies associated with green energy are in the black because their share has increased significantly. This is easily explained, as operational wind generators and solar panels are not so terribly dependent on the international supply chain and, in addition, require no storage. According to experts, the crisis has been creating opportunities that, under other conditions in the field of green energy, would have taken another 10 years to develop.
Of course, one cannot rely on a crisis, any crisis, solely pushing the industry forward. Already in the US they are talking about a huge reduction in the sector and hundreds of thousands of people may lose their jobs. As in other industries, the first blow is taken by small companies – those who work with their hands, and solar panel installers for private customers, for example, have already experienced a sharp reduction in demand. The second factor is that many green projects are financed by the same oil and gas giants, which, against the backdrop of the crisis, are cutting costs. And, of course, the problem is gradually growing like a snowball, affecting increasingly large-scale orders and increasingly large customers. Investment projects are frozen until better times. But analysts are unanimous – the trend for green energy is even stronger with exposure to such negative factors. At the end of the year, the US expects growth. Against the background of the fact that the oil and gas sector will save the state from bankruptcy, this looks promising. And if we take into account that the share of alternative energy in the USA is already above 20% and there is a plan to add to that by the end of the year, this makes the sector more and more significant. Some experts even expect that a growth in the opening of new capacities in the second half of the year will exceed all recent years.
So, what is going on in Ukraine in this regard? Here, the sector is not so big just yet, and the situation for it is more dangerous than positive. Players are already recording delays in the supply of equipment from China and are cautious about a 20-30% reduction in skilled personnel. An additional risk factor in Ukraine is the state’s vector for reducing green tariffs. An already controversial decision, at the time of the crisis, becomes especially destructive. In this regard, it is good that Ukraine, in any case, is in the wake of global trends, and if alternative energy is strengthened globally, then gradually they will develop here. I would like to hope that the redistribution of forces in the global energy market will lead to the fact that Ukraine will seriously engage in alternative energy sources. It is much more pleasant when the wind does not walk in your pocket but can be turned into megawatts for cities and industry.