COVID-19: Daily electricity demand dips 15% globally, says report

LONDON - The daily demand for electricity dipped at least 15 per cent across the globe, according to Global Energy Review 2020: The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on global energy demand and CO2 emissions, a report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in April 2020.

The report collated data from 30 countries, including India and China, that showed partial and full lockdown measures adopted by them were responsible for this decrease.

Full lockdowns in countries — including France, Italy, India, Spain, the United Kingdom and the midwest region of the United States (US) — reduced this demand for electricity.


Reduction in electricity demand after lockdown measures (weather corrected)


Source: Global Energy Review 2020: The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on global energy demand and CO2 emissions, IEA

Drivers of the fall

There was, however, a spike in residential demand for electricity as a result of people staying and working from home. This increase in residential demand, though, was not enough to compensate for reduced demand from industrial and commercial operations.

The extent of reduction depended not only on the duration and stringency of the lockdown, but also on the nature of the economy of the countries — predominantly service- or industry-based — the IEA report said.

A higher decline in electricity demand was noted in countries where the service sector — including retail, hospitality, education, tourism — was dominant, compared to countries that had industrial economies.

The US, for example — where industry forms only 20 per cent of the economy — saw larger reductions in electricity demand, compared to China, where the industry accounts for more than 60 per cent of the economy.

Italy — the worst-affected country from COVID-19 — saw a decline greater than 25 per cent when compared to figures from last year.

The report said the shutting down of the hospitality and tourism sectors in the country — major components of the Italian economy — were said to have had a higher impact, than any other factor, for this fall.


Reduced fossil fuel dependency

Almost all of the reduction in demand was reportedly because of the shutting down of fossil fuel-based power generation, according to the report. Instead, the share of electricity supply from renewables in the entire portfolio of energy sources, increased during the pandemic.

This was due to a natural increase in wind and photovoltaic power generation compared to 2019 along with a drop in overall electricity demand that forced electricity producers from non-renewable sources to decrease their supplies.

The Power System Operation Corporation of India also reported that electricity production from coal — India’s primary source of electricity — fell by 32.2 per cent to 1.91 billion units (kilowatt-hours) per day, compared to the 2019 levels.


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