IEA projects biggest fall in global energy demand since Second World War

Renewables are set to be the only energy source to grow in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which has highlighted the impact of COVID-19.

On 30 April, the IEA published its Global Energy Review for 2020, setting out estimates for how energy consumption and CO2 emissions trends are likely to evolve over the rest of 2020 – assuming that most lockdowns implemented around the world are progressively eased in the coming months, followed by a gradual economic recovery. According to its projections, energy demand is set to fall 6% in 2020, seven times larger than the decline that followed the 2008 global financial crisis with electricity consumption levels and patterns on weekdays looking like those of a pre-crisis Sunday due to lockdown measures.

Electricity demand is set to fall 5% in 2020, its largest decline since the Great Depression in the 1930s, while coal (8%) and natural gas (5%) are also facing substantial reductions in demand with their combined share in the global power mix reaching a level not seen since 2001.

In contrast, low-carbon sources of power are set to reach 40% of global electricity generation in 2020, with lockdown measures leading to a “major shift” to the likes of wind, solar PV and hydropower. Renewables are set to be the only energy source to grow in 2020, owed to priority access to grids and low operating costs. Solar PV and wind are on track to grow renewable electricity generation by 5% in 2020, with higher hydropower output impacting this.

IEA Executive Director, Dr Fatih Birol, suggested the report’s projections could spur fossil fuel companies to generate more clean energy, while also calling for governments to include clean energy at the heart of economic stimulus packages, ensuring there can be a green recovery. Birol said: “This crisis has underlined the deep reliance of modern societies on reliable electricity supplies for supporting healthcare systems, businesses and the basic amenities of daily life. But nobody should take any of this for granted – greater investments and smarter policies are needed to keep electricity supplies secure.”

IEA   The Guardian