Energy demand, emissions, investments set to fall due to Covid-19: IEA

Energy demand, emissions, investments set to fall due to Covid-19: IEA”

The IEA released the World Energy Outlook 2020 on Tuesday that forecast a 7% fall in global emissions this year from the last, due to the pandemic.

The Paris-based IEA sees global energy demand falling by 5% in 2020, Carbon dioxide emissions related to energy by 7% and energy investment by 18%.

In the agency's main scenario - which reflects policy intentions and targets already announced - renewables "take starring roles", particularly solar photovoltaic (PV) (so-called as it converts light - photon - to electricity - voltage).

The Paris-based agency added that generating electricity from renewable sources is the only major source of energy, which will continue to grow in 2020.

The combined share of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind in global generation will rise to nearly 30 percent in 2030 from eight percent in 2019, the scenario outlined, with solar PV capacity growing by an average 12 percent a year.

Predicting the future of energy is an even greater challenge than usual this year, coming after what the IEA described as a disruption not seen since 'World Wars and the Great Depression.

Changes in the shape and variability of electricity demand and the strong growth of solar PV and wind power are increasing flexibility needs in power systems, the report says: "As flexibility needs increase, hydropower will have greater value to systems for its ability to provide a wide set of system services across a wide range of time scales from improving power quality on a moment-to-moment basis to balancing seasonal variability". "Despite a record drop in global emissions this year, the world is far from doing enough to put them into decisive decline", said Dr Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director.

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Leaps in technology and support mechanisms have cut the financing costs for large solar projects, which in turn has brought down output costs, IEA said.

However it warns grids could prove to be the "weak link" in the transformation of the power sector, with implications for the reliability and security of electricity supply.

Global emissions are showing signs of bouncing back more slowly than after the Great Recession in 2008 but there is little hope so far of a "sustainable recovery". Even if the virus comes under control in 2021, global emissions will not rise above 2019 levels until 2027. Meanwhile, natural gas fares better than other fossil fuels in their outlook with a 30% increase in demand in South and East Asia by 2040. Demand for oil plunged by over 8 percent in 2020, and the IEA believes oil growth will halt within ten years.

'In the absence of a larger shift in policies, it is still too early to foresee a rapid decline in oil demand, the report said.

The report predicts that if now announced policy intentions and targets remain in place, global energy demand will rebound to pre-crisis levels in early 2023 - however, it forecasts this will not happen until 2025 in the Delayed Recovery Scenario, which imagines a "prolonged pandemic and deeper slump".

The pandemic has had the greatest impact on people in the poorest parts of the world.

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