The impact of COVID-19 on renewable energy

The COVID-19 pandemic has had mixed fortunes for the energy sector and the transition to renewable energy, according to a recently published report from the International Energy Agency.

World Energy Outlook 2020 is the agency’s flagship publication and addresses some of the potential routes ahead from the Coronavirus crisis, including how the pandemic has affected investment into the energy sector, global power demand and carbon emissions.

It includes several headline statistics that demonstrate why, at least in respect of renewable energy, the effects of the virus have been both positive and negative:

  • 18% fall in global energy investment
  • 5% fall in global energy demand
  • 7% fall in global energy-related CO2 emissions

However, it remains to be seen how long these effects will persist, and it is likely that demand will return to pre-pandemic levels at some point during the first half of the coming decade.

How fast will energy demand recover?

Under current policies and expectations, global energy demand would return to, and possibly exceed its pre-pandemic level by 2023. This is the IEA’s Stated Policies Scenario.

However, if the pandemic lasts for longer than currently expected, leading to further national lockdowns, it could be 2025 before energy demand recovers fully – the IEA calls this the Delayed Recovery Scenario.

The report also outlines two further routes beyond the pandemic:

  • the Sustainable Development Scenario, in which uptake of solar and wind power increases more than currently predicted
  • the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Case, a dramatic global effort to eliminate excess carbon emissions by the midpoint of the century

Any of the four scenarios could emerge in the coming years, although the IEA notes that to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, all parts of the energy economy would need to make significant progress, as targets would be too ambitious for failings in one area to be made up elsewhere.

The new king of energy

Dr Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, anticipates that solar energy will emerge as the primary source of renewable energy during the coming years.

“I see solar becoming the new king of the world’s electricity markets. Based on today’s policy settings, it is on track to set new records for deployment every year after 2022,” he said.

“If governments and investors step up their clean energy efforts in line with our Sustainable Development Scenario, the growth of both solar and wind would be even more spectacular – and hugely encouraging for overcoming the world’s climate challenge.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised significant challenges for humanity worldwide; however, it has also shown the way forwards in areas like remote working and video conferencing, which were perhaps under-utilised in the past, and have the potential to save on business-related energy and emissions.

As we move beyond the pandemic, this could help to control global power demand, while accelerating the transition towards carbon-neutral and renewable energy sources over the next decade.

Outdoor grounds maintenance for residential properties

As the weather turns increasingly towards the cold and damp part of the year, outdoor grounds maintenance for residential properties should be higher on the agenda.

All too often, it’s easy to become distracted by maintaining residential buildings during periods of heavy weather – and while that’s essential, it does not mean you should neglect the grounds.

Winter brings all sorts of hazards, ranging from an increase in standing water, slip hazards due to snow and ice, and even visibility problems on foggy days and in heavy rain.

Keeping on top of outdoor grounds maintenance for residential properties is a way to mitigate those risks, helping to keep tenants safe, secure and comfortable as the weather turns colder.

Maintain safe conditions underfoot

You can’t prevent snowfall or stop ice from forming, but keeping paths and pavements in good condition can reduce hidden trip hazards when the path is buried under snow or fallen leaves.

A well-maintained footpath will drain better, reducing the amount of surface water, and will respond better to grit and salt as a way to prevent ice from forming on sub-zero days.

It’s important to keep drains running freely, as this is the time of year when leaves can block them, and stormy weather is more likely to lead to them becoming silted up or otherwise blocked.

At hebs Group we can take care of your paths, pavements, car parks and the drains, keeping them free from standing water, ensuring your tenants can come and go safely whether by foot or by car.

Overhanging branches and building fabric

Sometimes work on your building fabric has natural benefits for outdoor grounds maintenance, especially if parts of your exterior are damaged, hanging off or showing other signs of weakness.

You definitely don’t want a resident to be hit by a length of falling gutter or drainpipe, or a piece of exterior wall cladding.

Likewise, it’s a good time of year to get your trees checked for weak or rotten branches, and have them removed before any strong winds come along to blow them on to pedestrians or parked vehicles.

hebs Group are committed to helping you keep all your residents safe and secure in the coming months, as well as protecting your property against avoidable weather damage. Get in touch by calling 0151 236 0707 or send us an email at info@hebs-group.co.uk and a member of our team will be happy to help with your enquiry.

The season of leaves – prevent blocked drains this autumn

The blazing colours and silent snow-like rain of falling leaves make autumn many people’s favourite time of year, but if your premises suffer from easily blocked drains, this dreamlike season can quickly become a nightmare.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do ahead of time and during the weeks of peak leaf-fall to keep your drains flowing freely, and avoid a flooded car park or other outdoor grounds.

1. Keep drains clear

It might sound obvious, but if your drains are clear of debris going into autumn, they are more likely to make it through the season without becoming blocked.

That’s important, not only because it means you shouldn’t arrive one day to find your car park underwater, but also because it allows you to schedule planned maintenance to clear your drains when you want, instead of needing to make an emergency call-out.

Get professionals like hebs Flowtech team to remove any silt and other residue, so your drains are as good as new as we move into autumn and winter.

2. Check capacity

If your drains regularly become blocked, make sure they are big enough to handle all the surface run-off from your grounds, especially if you have a lot of hard paving or tarmac.

You might be able to improve drainage by getting gullies and drainage ditches installed, or by having a larger diameter pipe placed where the most water leaves your property.

The hebs Flowtech team can rejuvenate existing drainage pipes without excavation, using trenchless technology to fix collapsed pipes and even to bore through old pipes and install drains with a wider diameter.

3. Prune your trees

A little careful pruning can take off just enough branches to reduce the number of fallen leaves in parts of your premises where drainage is an annual issue.

You could consider planting evergreen trees in those areas, again so that there are fewer leaves falling on the floor in the autumn months.

4. Grates and covers

Make sure your drains are protected by suitable gratings, and ditches/gullies are covered too. This might not stop all the leaves from getting in, but it should reduce the risk of drains becoming clogged up so easily.

Remember, you only need to get through a few weeks of falling leaves, so solutions that take away some of the pressure on your drains can have a huge impact year after year.

5. Get sweeping!

Finally, make sure you clear fallen leaves to an area where they won’t threaten to block your drains.

Some quick groundskeeping with a rake, broad brush or leaf blower can move leaves to a safe location, or allow you to collect them up for recycling.

If you don’t fancy doing it yourself, call hebs to prevent blocked drains this autumn – we can offer leaf clearing as part of your outdoor grounds maintenance all year round, and especially in the peak period of autumn and winter. Contact us on 0151 2360707 to learn more about our maintenance services.

Flowtech gutter clearance for Environment Agency

The Flowtech team recently spent two days on a detailed gutter clearance for the Environment Agency in Warrington, leaving them with free-flowing gutters and downpipes.

Gutter clearance is an essential maintenance task so any rain that falls on the roof is correctly carried away and does not pour on to paths below, or down the side of the building where it can penetrate masonry and lead to damp problems in the long term.

In Warrington we spent two days cleaning about 250 metres of guttering, including the hoppers and drainpipes, leaving the entire roof drainage system was left in as-new condition ready for the autumn and winter months ahead.

  

What we did

The job involved working at high level on a significant length of gutters, as well as the hoppers that collect the water and transfer it from the horizontal guttering into the vertical downpipes.

We used a cherry picker to reach the roof level and jet washed the gutters, removing the silt and other debris that had accumulated over time.

After giving the gutters and pipes a final wash, we left them clean and clear, in time for the rainy months still to come in 2020 and as we move into the winter of 2021.

Flowtech complete their jobs to the highest standard, and in this case we took care to leave the pipes and guttering not only free of any large obstructions, but cleaned of minor dirt too, so it will be a long time before they need any further maintenance work.

Get your gutters checked

Gutter clearance should be a priority at this time of year – it shouldn’t be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ just because you can’t easily see how much dirt and debris is accumulating.

Failing to keep gutters clear can lead to multiple problems that are harder to fix in the long term:

  • Excess rainwater pouring on to the ground below
  • Surface flooding as water is not guided into the drains correctly
  • Masonry damage and internal damp due to penetrating rainwater
  • Damage to guttering due to excess weight of accumulated detritus
  • Severe downpipe blockages due to materials entering from the gutters

 

It’s also likely that leaves will have blown into your gutters during the autumn months, if you see signs of water overflowing your gutters, visible damage, or you just haven’t had them checked in the past year, give the Flowtech team a call on 0151 236 0707 and we can take care of it for you.