It is no secret that the economy has taken a huge hit from COVID-19, and the clean tech sector is no exception. The job growth of the past 5 years was erased in a relatively short amount of time.
We have also seen the results of the veritable global lockdown on the environment. Cities that had significant smog problems saw blue skies, animals were seen in odd places, and some endangered species have enjoyed a respite from human encroachment.
More recently, with business getting back on track, and lockdowns becoming more targeted to areas with COVID-19 outbreaks, the environmental reprieve is over. But people noticed, and are looking for green tech to make a comeback. Green tech sectors are well positioned for a comeback for a number of reasons.
First, big companies are on board with it. For example, big players like Amazon, Google and Wal-Mart have invested in solar power. That makes it more mainstream, and these players have absorbed a higher cost to enable research and development that is making it more competitive with fossil fuels. Renewable energy, in the past 10 years, has created new buying programs so businesses don’t have to figure everything out for themselves. In addition, third party resources, such as EnergySage online market place can help small firms with their transition plans to renewable energy.
The technology for renewable energy of all kinds has improved. Electric vehicles are being touted by most auto makers, not just Tesla. Range for these vehicles has increased, and charging time has decreased, making them more appealing to consumers. Wind power costs are much less than they were 10 years ago, and offshore wind is rising in popularity. Solar energy continues to develop new materials and new models, such as floating solar panels for utility scale installations. Businesses are better organized around climate change remediation, and groups like We Are Still In are working to hold Congress accountable for initiatives that will benefit renewable energy.
Finally, the millennials and some Gen Z are more interested in renewables than previous generations, and they represent a growing voting bloc in addition to entering and changing the face of the workforce. These young people see that renewable energy is poised on the brink, and they want to push it to the mainstream. They not only want clean energy, they want careers in the clean energy sector.
The pandemic may have taken the wind out of the sails of renewable energy for the short term, but the groundswell of support is strong and growing. Clean tech will be part of the economic recovery.