COVID-19 AND THE ENERGY SECTOR

COVID-19 AND THE ENERGY SECTOR

Across the world the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic are being felt, with over 100,000 deaths, huge disruption to industry and normal life as we know it. The centre of the outbreak has moved from China to Europe which is now recognised as the epicentre of the crisis. Italy has been seen the highest number of deaths reaching over 4000. Governments across Europe have issued social distancing measures ranging from total lockdown of communities to closing schools and recommending home working and avoiding social gatherings. These events and measures are unprecedented in modern times.

The UK government’s stay at home advice for households with possible coronavirus infection and working from home and social distancing measures it is predicted will see a new Electricity demand pattern to appear.  In fact, according to analysis by National Grid ESO, demand across the country would reduce in the event of long-term mass self-isolation due to likely reductions in industrial and commercial demand.

The Energy Networks association (ENA) who represent the UK electrical and gas transmission network operators have issued a statement to customers in the form of an open letter saying they have ‘well-practiced contingency plans in place so we can keep your energy flowing’ and have put in place robost contingency plans industry wide to ‘ensure arrangements for people and equipment required to keep the gas and electricity flowing’

David Smith, chief executive of the ENA, said “The UK’s electricity and gas network is one of the most reliable in the world and network operators are working with the authorities to ensure that their contingency plans are reviewed and delivered in accordance with the latest expert advice.”

On average the UK electricity consumption is roughly domestic 30%, industrial 26% and 21% commercial, this totalled 352.1TWhs last year. However, experts now believe these figures will change as we change our working habits with an increase in domestic use which includes residential use i.e. home workers and a drop in industrial and commercial however overall demand is predicted to fall.

The IEA international Energy Agency are concerned that the response to COVID-19 could see green energy transition efforts derailed, saying the ‘inescapable challenge’ of climate change must not be compromised by the impacts of the pandemic.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol said in a social media post, “The coronavirus crisis is already doing significant damage around the world. Rather than compounding the tragedy by allowing it to hinder clean energy transitions, we need to seize the opportunity to help accelerate them,”

He continued, ‘Large-scale investment to boost the development, deployment and integration of clean energy technologies – such as solar, wind, hydrogen, batteries and carbon capture (CCUS) – should be a central part of governments’ plans because it will bring the twin benefits of stimulating economies and accelerating clean energy transitions. The progress this will achieve in transforming countries’ energy infrastructure won’t be temporary – it can make a lasting difference to our future”

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