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EGEB: China’s coronavirus causes oil prices to plunge

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • China’s coronavirus causes global oil prices to plummet.
  • Tech giants were the biggest buyers of green energy in 2019.
  • China beats the US with its plan to ban single-use plastics.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Coronavirus drops oil prices

Oil prices dropped more than 2% yesterday as a result of the coronavirus spreading in China. When SARS hit the country in 2002, China’s annual growth dropped from 11% to 9%.

This recent price drop has occurred because traders are concerned that travel advisories and any other major impact on China’s and other countries’ economies will reduce oil demand, yet there is a strong supply.

However, today saw a slight recovery after five days of losses. OPEC gave a statement yesterday calling for calm, and that helped curb the sell-off of futures.

Vandana Hari, CEO of Vanda Insights, told CNBC today:

It is based on a lot of fear and panic… That fear and panic will probably not die down anytime soon.

It’s natural, very human to… hark back to SARS. However, when it comes to the oil market, I don’t think it’s entirely comparable.

Perhaps a bigger one is that the China-US trade deal… has not really raised hopes for commodities seeing a major comeback in demand. All of these factors will remain, and I presume they have contributed to this fear and panic being a little bit more amplified.

Tech giants lead the way in green energy

Tech giants including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon were the biggest buyers of green energy in 2019. The companies purchased the green energy to power their data centers.

Tech firms bought almost 25% of green energy sold to global companies last year, according to a BloombergNEF report.

Google led with 2,700MW, followed by Facebook at 1,100MW, Amazon at 900MW, and Microsoft at 800MW.

According to the Guardian:

BloombergNEF found that 100 companies in 23 countries struck deals to buy 19.5GW of renewable energy last year, up 40% from the record set the year before.

Kyle Harrison, the lead author of the [BloombergNEF] report, said: ‘The clean energy portfolios of some of the largest corporate buyers rival those of the world’s biggest utilities. These companies are facing mounting pressure from investors to decarbonize.’

On October 15, Google announced that it will spend $150 million on green energy projects in countries where its products are made.

And on January 16, Microsoft announced that by 2030 it “will be carbon negative, and by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.”

China says goodbye to single-use plastics

China is the world’s No. 1 largest creator of single-use plastic waste. The US is No. 2. Last week, China announced that it will ban single-use plastics.

As Waste 360 explains:

This year, China will ban and restrict the production, sales, and use of some plastic products in some regions and areas. By 2022, China hopes the consumption of disposable plastic products will be significantly reduced and alternative products will be replaced. By 2025, China will prohibit the production, distribution, consumption and recycling of single-use plastic products.

The US has no plan to ban single-use plastics, and it vaguely encourages people to do a better job of recycling, As the New York Times‘ climate newsletter pointed out:

For years, we relied heavily on recycling operations in China to take our waste. But that came to an end in 2018, when Beijing barred the import of recycling materials.

Legislators may need to pass laws requiring manufacturers to use more recyclable materials, companies would need to build much-needed recycling infrastructure, and people would need to recycle properly.

If you’re American, and curious about what your state is doing (or not doing) after the Beijing recycling import ban, have a look at this 50-state report from WasteDive. And ask your legislators and retail outlets that you use to ban single-use plastics.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.