Corona impacts Flemish renewable energy sector
Four out of five Flemish companies in the renewable energy sector are already facing the consequences of the corona crisis. Another 16% expect an impact on the work within the month. Only the companies that install heat pumps feel the crisis a little more limited.
All this is evident from a survey by the Organisation for Renewable Energy (ODE). This sector federation represents installers of heat pumps and solar panels, but also companies that build biomass plants, wind turbines, or heat grids.
According to managing director Bram Claeys, it is obvious that activities are already at a low level today. Moreover, because energy is currently cheap, companies prefer to buy energy rather than invest. It remains to be seen what this will do in the future with the share of renewable energy in Belgium.
The companies are particularly affected by staff shortages in corona times. Half of them report that they have too few employees left. An equally large percentage report that they have to halt or postpone recruitment.
According to Bram Claeys, a lack of childcare is one of the most frequent reasons to stay away from work. Absenteeism is another major cause, even though there is almost no reference to Covid-19 symptoms, according to the survey. Anyone who feels sick should stay at home these days anyway.
The sharp decline in activities can also be deduced from the lowered revenue expectations for this year. ODE estimates the average loss of revenue for this year at 34%. There are a few differences between the various branches in the sector. Last year, investments increased by 20%.
The survey also indicates that the stop or postponement of works will cause problems in meeting contractual or regulatory deadlines. 12% of those questioned fear this, especially in wind and solar energy. One of those ‘deadlines’ is the removal of the reverse counter system for small solar energy installations in private households.