In order to suppress the continuous spreading of the COVID-19 pandemic, many governments have issued various restrictive measures, including stay-at-home order, lockdown, as well as shutdown and production suspension, followed with considerable complains, which led to the profound reduction in the demand for coal, petroleum, and natural gas. International Energy Agency (IEA) commented that 2020 will be the year with the biggest reduction in global carbon emission in recent history.
IEA had previously conducted a 100-day research on the analysis regarding energy demand under the impact from the pandemic, and discovered that the global demand for energy has been reduced by 6% in 2020, which is not only 7 times the figure during the 2008 financial crisis, but is also the biggest reduction since World War II. IEA commented such reduction is equivalent to India having no power for an entire year. According to the data of IEA, a close observation on the energy demand for each region reveals that the demand has been reduced by 9% in the US, and 11% in Europe.
IEA anticipates that the global carbon dioxide emission in 2020 will decrease by 8% unprecedentedly.
IEA pointed out that the demand for coal, petroleum, and natural gas has been reduced unprecedentedly. Having declined 5% for the demand in the first quarter, coal has become the biggest underdog in the fuel sector, with a reduction of 9% in the total demand for 2020, and a daily reduction of 9.3 million barrels per day. The global demand for natural gas has also gone down by roughly 5%, with a deterioration of 2.6% in power generation during the first quarter. Renewable energy is the only energy that grew amidst this pandemic, with a global ratio in renewable energy power generation that elevated from 26% to 28%, and is expected to achieve 30% by the end of the year.
Such figures may be beneficial to lowering the level of carbon emission in the world. In accordance with the target stipulated by the Paris Agreement, each country must control the average temperature increase of the world to 1.5-2°C, and reduce the annual emission of carbon dioxide to 7.6%, before this century comes to an end. Unfortunately, we are still far away from achieving this target, as global carbon emission is still on the rise, and a trailing progress that worries the world.
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, expressed that the leader of various countries have promised to propose strong and powerful green energy policy in the upcoming weeks, and enterprises are also encouraging the acceleration of energy transformation. If the above promises are fulfilled, this COVID-19 pandemic may become the turning point for the energy market.
The reduction in the demand for fuel and petroleum has significantly cleared up the sky. The concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PM2.5 has decreased by 37% and 10% respectively, which not only contributed to the new level of solar power generation in the UK, Spain, and Germany, but also reduced the casualty from air pollution in Europe by 11,000 compared to the same period of last year, commented Lauri Myllyvirta, senior analyst of the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).
We have discovered similar results in other countries. Take China for example, the concentration of NO2 and PM2.5 has decreased by 25% and 40% respectively, with a greater reduction seen in the severely pandemic-impacted Hubei.
(Cover photo source: shutterstock)