Smoke rises from chimneys of the Turow power plant located by the Turow lignite coal mine near the town of Bogatynia, Poland, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Copyright Petr David Josek/AP
The COVID-19 pandemic represents the biggest shock to the global energy system in seven decades, with the drop in demand this year set to dwarf the impact of the 2008 financial crisis and result in a record annual decline in carbon emissions of almost 8%.
A new report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) provides an almost real-time view of the COVID-19 pandemic’s extraordinary impact across all major fuels, with renewable energy extending its lead over coal-fired power use across Europe.
“This is a historic shock to the entire energy world. Amid today’s unparalleled health and economic crises, the plunge in demand for nearly all major fuels is staggering, especially for coal, oil and gas. Only renewables are holding up during the previously unheard-of slump in electricity use,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director.
“It is still too early to determine the longer-term impacts, but the energy industry that emerges from this crisis will be significantly different from the one that came before.”
The report projects that energy demand will fall 6% in 2020 – seven times the decline after the 2008 global financial crisis. In absolute terms, the decline is unprecedented – the equivalent of losing the entire energy demand of India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer. Advanced economies are expected to see the biggest declines, with demand set to fall by 9% in the United States and by 11% in the European Union.