Global Energy Review 2020
The impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on global energy demand and CO2 emissions
IEA (2020), Renewable energy market update, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/renewable-energy-market-update
This report is a market update on the IEA’s most recent five-year renewable energy forecast, Renewables 2019, published in October 2019. It provides an early analysis of the drivers and challenges since last October, and covers renewable capacity additions for all technologies and transport biofuel production expected during 2020 and 2021. An update on renewable heat technologies is also included; however, the analysis is qualitative due to limited data availability.
Given ongoing uncertainty, the forecasts for 2020 and 2021 will be updated in the second half of the year to reassess recent market and policy developments.
Renewables are not immune to the Covid-19 crisis, but are more resilient than other fuels. The IEA’s Global Energy Review 2020 projected renewables to be the only energy source to grow this year compared to 2019, in contrast to all fossil fuels and nuclear.
Globally, overall demand for renewables is expected to increase due to their use in the electricity sector. Even with end-use electricity demand falling significantly because of lockdown measures, low operating costs and priority access to the grid in many markets allow renewables to operate at near full capacity, enabling renewable generation to grow. This increased production is in part due to record-level capacity additions in 2019, a trend that was set to continue into this year. However, supply chain disruptions, construction delays and macroeconomic challenges increase the uncertainty about the total amount of renewable capacity growth in 2020 and 2021.
The IEA anticipates that consumption of transport biofuel and industrial renewable heat will be more acutely impacted by an economic downturn than will renewable electricity. Lower transport fuel demand directly affects the prospects for biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which are mostly consumed blended with gasoline and diesel. Renewables directly used for heat processes mostly take the form of bioenergy for the pulp and paper, cement, textile, food and agricultural industries, all of which are exposed to demand shocks. Suppression of global demand has a stronger impact on biofuels and renewable heat than it does on renewable electricity. This impact will critically depend on the duration and stringency of lockdowns and the pace of economic recovery.
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