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International Energy Agency (IEA) Global Energy Review 2020 (GEN – 1114.00)

19 May 2020

4 min read
2020 - International Energy Agency (IEA) Global Energy Review

International Energy Agency (IEA) Global Energy Review 2020 (GEN – 1114.00)

19 May 2020

4 min read

GEN – 1114.00. The IEA has issued its World Energy Outlook 2020 that also looks at the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Its analysis show that in countries in lockdown, the energy demand declined by 18-25% on average. IEA explores a scenario that quantifies the energy impacts of a widespread global recession caused by months-long restrictions on mobility, and social and economic activity. This results in a 6% energy demand contraction – the largest one in 70 years in percentage terms and the largest ever in absolute terms. The impact of COVID-19 on energy demand in 2020 would be more than seven times larger than the impact of the 2008 financial crisis.

World Energy Outlook 2020

The 48-page 2020 report focuses on the energy industry: https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-review-2020

The 2020 report recognises that full impact of the current situation, as yet unknown, will be determined by the duration of lockdown measures and the recovery paths taken around the world. This unprecedented situation and the stimulus packages that governments are putting in place will shape the energy sector for years to come, with significant consequences for the energy industry at large, energy security and clean energy transitions.

The energy industry is feeling the financial impact throughout value chains, being hit twice, first by lower demand for their products (oil, gas, coal and electricity) and again by lower prices for these products.

This could raise concerns about energy security because investment is necessary even if global energy demand takes a long time to return to the pre-crisis trajectory. A considerable proportion of global energy investment is devoted to just sustaining existing levels of energy supply: maintaining oil and gas production at current levels, replacing ageing power generation capacity while at the same time investment in renewable energy should continue.

The declines in energy demand has already seen a drop in global CO2 emissions, surpassing any previous declines. For 2020, the decline would be 8% lower than in 2019. This would be the lowest level since 2010.

Climate change

Not all of the declines in energy demand in 2020 were a result of the response to COVID-19. The continuation of milder than average weather conditions throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere winter also pushed down demand. The impact of weather was particularly strong in the United States, where the majority of the 18% decline in residential and commercial gas consumption can be attributed to a milder winter than in 2019.

World Energy Outlook 2018 and 2019

The 2018 report mentioned that governments are expected to drive 70% of energy investments. However, at the same time, it was highlighted that policy efforts have weakened in recent years. The improvements in energy efficiency that were seen in earlier years were slowing down because fewer new policies were introduced. This has contributed to the acceleration in energy demand. The report considered the effect if all cost effective and available technologies would be implemented to reap the benefits of energy efficiency.

The 2019 report stressed that the faltering momentum behind global energy efficiency improvements was cause for deep concern. It came against a backdrop of rising needs for heating, cooling, lighting, mobility and other energy services. The improvements in the energy intensity of the global economy (the amount of energy used per unit of economic activity) were slowing: the 1.2% improvement in 2018 was around half the average rate seen since 2010. This reflects a relative lack of new energy efficiency policies and of efforts to tighten existing measures.

Efforts to reduce global energy intensity by more than 3% each year were recommended. These included efforts to promote the efficient design, use and recycling of materials (material efficiency) to halt the growth in emissions. Using digital tools to shift electricity demand to cheaper and less emissions-intensive hours of the day would reduce electricity bills for consumers and help with system balancing, while reducing emissions.

Other IEA publications

Most IEA publications become free of charge after one or two years. They can provide for useful insights into various developments

The future of cooling

GEN – 963.00 already highlighted this study. It is useful to consider the numbers figured in there mentioned about 1.6 bn. air conditioners installed, about half of them in America and China. Only 8% of the 2,8bn. people living in hot climates has access to air conditioning today. It is expected that the number of air conditioners will increase to 5,6bn. by 2050, at a rate of 10 air conditioners sold every second until 2050. This increase would have to be accompanied by greater access to electricity as it is estimated that today less than one billion people have no access to electricity. The study can be downloaded on: https://webstore.iea.org/the-future-of-2

Country Policy Reports

Since the previous mid-2018 update, the following reports have been added: 2020 Germany, Luxembourg and India, 2019 United Kingdom, United States, Ireland, Sweden, Slovakia, Morocco and Estonia. While these reports are very extensive and detailed, a summary of the key findings can be found on: https://webstore.iea.org/country-studies

Market reports

The 2019 report on energy efficiency is the most relevant to Eurovent. In residential buildings the impact of structural factors on demand has been even more pronounced. In 2018, structural factors, such as increasing building floor area and appliance ownership, created additional energy demand equivalent to over 2% of final demand. These structural factors exceeded the impact of technical efficiency gains, which only avoided energy use equivalent to 0,7% of residential building final energy demand.

The report on renewable energy should become available free of charge later this year. See: https://webstore.iea.org/market-reports

Recommended Actions

The findings of the IEA outlook are more worrying that in the past. The society must deal with COVID-19, the recession(s) and the remaining and ongoing challenge of climate change.

The members could benefit from browsing the IEA website from time to time, as it includes useful information on the situation in individual countries across the world and other useful data.

Related documents and links

All related documents and articles can be found in the respective sections in the right sidebar.


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