Last March, lockdowns swept across Europe, forcing an eerie silence on some of the world’s most iconic and bustling cities. It caused a steep drop in electricity consumption  putting pressure on thermal generators and giving renewables a greater share of the generation mix.

“All of that has really provided us a bit of a glimpse of the future to a time where we will have much more flexible supply on the system and renewables will be consistently taking a much greater share of the market,” says Tom Heggarty, a principal analyst at Wood Mackenzie.

The COVID-19 crisis proved that the European grid can handle large amounts of renewable energy, even at levels we didn’t expect to see for another five to 10 years. 

So how do we take this knowledge and game out the future? 

For more answers, we turn to Jyrki Leino, a senior manager for business development at Wärtsilä. “We kind of stepped to the future right away. We saw the systems in a situation where [under] normal conditions would be in five or 10 years' time,” he says.

Jyrki and his team at Wärtsilä wanted to help answer some simple questions: What happens to European power markets if the trends we saw during the pandemic persist? And what happens if renewables are meeting nearly all load demand? 

So they built an open-data test environment called the Wärtsilä  Energy Transition Lab. It’s like a fact-based choose-your-own-adventure for energy geeks. Or a crystal ball.

In this episode, brought to you by Wärtsilä, we look into that crystal ball. 

Check out Wärtsilä's Energy Transition Lab to see the impact of COVID-19 on energy markets and for clues about Europe’s clean energy transition. It’s an open-source data set that anyone can use.