Mental health experts advise us not to think beyond the day-to-day when dealing with the current COVID-19 crisis. However, while governments must focus on the immediate emergency, they also need to start planning for recovery. It is obvious that the global economy will suffer a huge drop in activity over the first half of 2020 at the very least, but the depth and longevity of that economic slowdown will depend on decisions governments make now. A reasonable assumption is that most will continue to revive Keynesian policies rather than implement “austerity 2.0“ to reduce currently spiralling national deficits.

The media, and some politicians, are very keen on using wartime metaphors to describe the measures needed. However, the parallels with post conflict situations are misleading. For example, unlike in a post war environment, the current physical infrastructure remains intact. It’s more useful to look at the recovery from the great depression of the 1920s and 30s. A flagship policy in the US at the time was the building of what is now called the Hoover dam. This points the way to how modern governments can and should create a sustainable recovery: Wind energy can be the new global ‘Hoover dam’, delivering benefits now and for generations to come.

We’ve already worked with many governments and companies* to demonstrate the economic benefits of wind energy. Wind energy can generate quick and sustainable results – reviving local economies and creating jobs. The cost trajectory should also mean that more wind energy will lower power prices for both commercial and residential users.

For emerging offshore wind markets, the economic benefits are even greater if regional supply chains emerge. Costs will fall if each country focuses on supply chain elements where they enjoy comparative advantage. Economies of scale will also be realised due to the larger volumes becoming available to the supply chain.

Not all the investment required for a new wind boom has to come from government funds. Many potential projects have a strong commercial business case regardless of subsidy from governments. Substantial growth could occur even if governments ‘merely’ make the leasing, consenting and selling of wind energy easier.

By looking to wind energy to lead economic recovery, nations can develop the equivalent of hundreds of Hoover dams. The resultant economic, environmental and societal benefits of doing so will leave a positive legacy to outlive the COVID-19 nightmare .

Stephen Mills

*  For example: