Covid-19 impact on electricity

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In this report

In light of the extraordinary impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown measures on the energy system, the IEA is publishing the most up-to-date possible electricity data. This report includes data through 25 May, 2020. It will be updated on 16 July with data through the end of June.

Impact of lockdown measures

Electricity demand dropped to Sunday levels under lockdown, with dramatic reductions in services and industry only partially offset by higher residential use. When confinement were eased in Italy and Germany in April, electricity demand showed the first signs of recovering.

This trend is confirmed in May, as more countries (India, France, Spain) soften lockdown measures. The electricity demand, weather corrected, stays 10% below what they were before the first lockdown measures, in most countries except India, where the recovery is more pronounced.

Reductions of electricity demand after implementing lockdown measures in selected countries, weather corrected, 0 to 86 days

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First lockdown measures (day 0)Lockdown strengthenedLockdown softened
FranceMarch 14March 17 (day 3)May 11 (day 55)
GermanyMarch 15March 22 (day 7)April 20 (day 36) and May 4 (day 50)
ItalyMarch 4March 13 (day 9)April 14 (day 41) and May 4 (day 61)
SpainMarch 9March 15 (day 6)May 11 (day 55)
UKMarch 19March 23 (day 4)May 11 in England (day 55)
IndiaMarch 18March 25 (day 7)May 4 (day 47)
Changes in electricity mix

Across all major regions, the power mix has shifted towards renewables following lockdown measures due to depressed electricity demand, low operating costs and priority access to the grid through regulations.

In the United States, natural gas has remained the leading source of electricity, while renewables have far outpaced the contribution of coal-fired power plants. In May, renewables have consolidated their second position after natural gas and way above coal. 

In India, the gap between coal and renewables has narrowed significantly. The share of coal in the electricity mix stays consistently under 70%. In late May, levels of electricity demand are recovering while the rising share of renewables in the mix reflects their seasonal availability.

With progressive release of lockdown measures in China starting in the second half of March, the coal share recovers slightly, while renewables maintain a high share in the mix.

In the EU, nuclear and coal have adjusted to generation levels still significantly lower and growing renewables availability.

Electricity mix in the United States, January-May 2020

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Electricity mix in India, January-May 2020

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Electricity mix in the European Union, January-May 2020

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Electricity mix in China, January-April 2020

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Variable renewables in Europe

The share of variable renewables in the electricity mix depends on many factors: wind and solar parks in operation, weather conditions, and total demand. In several EU countries, in particular Italy, Spain and Germany, new records have been reached during the lockdown period. The share of variable renewables remain high as lockdown measures are softening.

VRE share in electricity demand in Germany, January-May 2020

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VRE share in electricity demand in France, January-May 2020

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VRE share in electricity demand in Spain, January-May 2020

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VRE share in electricity demand in Italy, January-May 2020

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