As the rhythms of everyday life, industry, and consumption shift in response to COVID-19, so too does energy. The ‘Energy in COVID-19’ project looks at how energy consumption, services, production, and futures have been impacted by the current pandemic. This includes analysis of how energy is being discussed by experts and policymakers in forums attempting to gauge the current and future impacts on myriad energy sectors. Energy studies, of course, is a broad field. Even within the empirical humanities and social sciences, researchers have studied extraction and energy transitions, energy justice and vulnerability. The Energy in COVID-19 project gathers together energy studies scholars, and provides a loose infrastructure for sharing research and collaboration.
The following essay aims to provide an overview of the energy field and several of its areas of study, particularly as each area of study has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the several aims of the essay itself is to look at the ways in which energy is being conceptualized, discussed, and addressed throughout COVID-19 discourses. Together with the foregoing, the essay brings together conceptualizations of energy in the fields of energy transition, climate and sustainability, vulnerability, energy access and energy justice, to name a few. By diving into ways in which community or local organizations address the matters stated aforehand, the essay discusses the effectiveness of protective measures taken during and following the COVID-19 declared state of emergency. While other literature explores the impacts of policies, discourses, and community organizations’ work on energy singularly, this project aims to illustrate the interconnectedness of transition, climate and sustainability, vulnerability, access and justice, as particularly related to the energy fields and as stressed during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. Through interviews and collection of state and local data, the essay looks at the ways in which protective measures are shifting and stressing energy infrastructures, as well as costs of the current energy system(s), and what the near future will look like in terms of solving energy-related problems.