World energy demand to drop 6% in 2020: IEA

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IEA in its Global Energy Review indicated that energy demand will drop 6 percent in 2020 – seven times the decline after the 2008 global financial crisis.

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 drop by 9 percent in the United States and by 11 percent in the European Union.

The impact of the crisis on energy demand is dependent on the duration and stringency of measures to curb the spread of the virus. IEA said that each month of worldwide lockdown at the levels seen in early April reduces annual global energy demand by about 1.5 percent.

Changes to electricity use during lockdowns have resulted in significant declines in overall electricity demand. Full lockdowns have pushed down electricity demand by 20 percent or more, with lesser impacts from partial lockdowns. Electricity demand is set to decline by 5 percent in 2020, the largest drop since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Lockdown measures are driving a major shift towards low-carbon sources of electricity including wind, solar PV, hydropower and nuclear.

After overtaking coal for the first time ever in 2019, low-carbon sources are set to extend their lead this year to reach 40 percent of global electricity generation – 6 percentage points ahead of coal. Electricity generation from wind and solar PV continues to increase in 2020, lifted by new projects that were completed in 2019 and early 2020.

The combined share of gas and coal in the global power mix is set to drop by 3 percentage points in 2020 to a level not seen since 2001.

Coal demand is projected to fall by 8 percent in 2020, the largest decline since the Second World War. Following its 2018 peak, coal-fired power generation is set to fall by more than 10 percent this year.

After 10 years of uninterrupted growth, natural gas demand is on track to decline 5 percent in 2020.

Renewables are set to be the only energy source that will grow in 2020, with their share of global electricity generation projected to jump thanks to their priority access to grids and low operating costs.

Despite supply chain disruptions that have paused or delayed deployment in several key regions this year, solar PV and wind are on track to help lift renewable electricity generation by 5 percent in 2020, aided by higher output from hydropower.

Despite the resilience of renewables in electricity generation in 2020, their growth is set to be lower than in previous years. Nuclear power, another major source of low-carbon electricity, is on track to drop by 3 percent from the all-time high it reached in 2019.

Renewables outside the power sector are faring less well. Global demand for biofuels is set to fall substantially in 2020 as restrictions on transport and travel reduce road transport fuel demand, including for blended fuels.

As a result of these trends – mainly the declines in coal and oil use – global energy-related CO2 emissions are set to fall by almost 8 percent in 2020, reaching their lowest level since 2010. This would be the largest decrease in emissions ever recorded – nearly six times larger than the previous record drop of 400 million tonnes in 2009 that resulted from the global financial crisis.

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