Article - Greenbyte

April 29, 2020 — Industry Trends

Remote working shouldn’t be remotely challenging

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to batter countries around the world. For businesses, the impact of this sudden upheaval will be truly fascinating.

Jonas Corné
CEO, Greenbyte

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to batter countries around the world.

From all the Greenbyte team, we hope you and your loved ones are coping in these difficult times – and that the Greenbyte Platform is helping life run a little smoother.

For businesses, the impact of this sudden upheaval will be truly fascinating. In just a matter of months, Zoom has gone from being a business videoconferencing platform to one of the world’s most downloaded non-game apps. Other apps that help people to connect online – Houseparty, Slack, Skype and WhatsApp – are doing well too.

Video calls aren’t new. But the Covid-19 crisis has put jet fuel under these firms and propelled their industry forward. The same can happen in data and renewables.

Fuelling renewables

Businesses in all sectors have seen how vital it is that they can keep things running, even if they can’t access their buildings and systems. Previously sceptical firms are now experiencing how a lack of access to data can scupper their continuity plans.

And what about the impact of Covid-19 on the renewable industry specifically?

We will have a chance to discuss this at our annual Greenbyte Forum, which we’re planning to run later in the year. We’ll be sharing more details on that soon, so stay tuned! With that in mind, here are some impacts we’ve seen thus far.

The crisis is affecting renewables less than many industries. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and people still need electricity. Even so, it has taken a heroic effort from those in the energy sector to keep the power flowing – and economic activity for customers going – as vast numbers of businesses cope with dispersed workforces.

This pandemic has put resilience in the spotlight.

The biggest struggle for our customers is when offices and control rooms can’t be accessed or run as normal due to social distancing. This is undoubtedly a challenge, but we think it can be an opportunity for data professionals. There’s no better time to explain to management teams how remote O&M helps boost returns in tough times.

We’ve seen upheaval in stock markets – but, internally, your stock should be rising! You can read how Polish company Mashav manages its O&M remotely here.

Power prices are down too due to lower levels of business activity. This is putting wind and solar operators under greater pressure to optimise projects to maximise returns, and means that they have to be more proactive in their approach to O&M.

You can find out how to use software to boost returns from solar farms here.

Accelerating storage

Overall, what we see happening in the world is that trends with tailwind BC (Before Covid-19) have been accelerated by the virus. For example: online retail, remote working, cloud computing. And trends with headwind have slowed even faster. For example: burning of hydrocarbons and ‘normal’ television.

We see opportunities to accelerate some trends in renewables too. One of these is energy storage. Companies that rely on merchant power prices have seen huge volatility in recent weeks, but this volatility has helped operators of energy storage assets. Research from Wärtsilä has indicated that profit margins on some storage assets are up around 20% since the pandemic hit, for example.

This can only bolster the case for standalone energy storage assets.

Hybrid projects will likely benefit too. Adding storage to an existing wind or solar farm can help operators to store energy and sell it at times when it is more profitable. This will also increase the demands for data on production forecasts and predicted power prices.

Finally, we believe that current challenges will help organisations speed up digital transformation efforts – as these efforts are receiving increased managed attention dur to their material impact on business resilience. The rise in enquiries that we’ve seen since the start of Covid-19 may be a sign that the industry is taking the opportunity to modernise and digitalise.

Times now are tough. But we think this could mean a great flowering of innovation in the renewables industry, from companies both large and small. We have profiled one such innovative utility, Varberg Energi, in a case study here.

And who knows, at our next Forum we expect to hear some great stories of how you innovated to help steer your organisation through the current upheaval. As far as we’re concerned, our customers are the renewables sector’s key workers – keeping the turbines turning and solar inverters humming.

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