17.11.20 Corona promotes energy conservation Thomas Schmidt • 6 min.

Scroll to Read
Summary

The corona restrictions are reducing carbon emissions and decelerating climate change worldwide. For example, Germany’s energy consumption in 2020 will likely be 7 percent lower than in 2019. What does this mean for the energy transition?

Nearly everyone agrees that we have to tackle climate change. The problem is, climate protection requires self-abnegation: no weekend trip to Rome, no SUV in the garage, no cozy 22 degrees indoors during winter. So when it comes to taking action, the consensus crumbles. And the actions that we do take tend to be contradictory. We bike to work but fly from Stuttgart to Hamburg (because the train takes, well, forever). If our conscience nags us, we have a ready excuse: individual action won’t change anything anyway. Yet this excuse is as self-serving as it is invalid. Because Covid-19’s repercussions are demonstrating that climate change can indeed be tackled.

Less energy, fewer emissions

Germany, for example, will likely consume as much as 7% less energy in 2020 than in 2019. Energy consumption in the first half of the year – which was tangibly impacted by the lockdown – was nearly 9% lower. Because of the preferential dispatch of renewables (put simply: wind farms are used to meet demand before coal-fired power plants are), carbon emissions from energy production declined by 13% in the first half of the year and are expected to drop by about 10% for the year as a whole. For the same reason, the share of renewables in Germany’s energy mix is expected to increase from 44% in 2019 to over 50% in 2020.

Commuters become homebodies

Corona curbed travel. During the first lockdown, the number of passengers at Frankfurt Airport plummeted by 95%. Not surprisingly, jet fuel sales dropped by 46% in the first half of 2020. With millions of employees working from home, public transport use declined dramatically too, by 70% on average in Germany and by around 85% in Madrid and Milan. Similarly, cars stayed in garages. In Germany, gasoline sales – and, happily, traffic deaths –fell by 13% in the first half of 2020.

Home sweet home office

Working at home of course increases energy consumption. Household appliances and devices – coffee machines, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, and above all phones and computers – tend to be used more. The estimates of the corona-induced increase in residential electricity consumption vary from 4% to 20%. But the additional costs are hardly prohibitive: using a laptop at home costs about 15 cents a day, a computer with a big monitor about 50 cents. By comparison, using the stove at a high setting for an hour costs 50 cents as well.

Not just more electricity is being consumed. A survey conducted by Germany’s Central Institute of Mental Health indicated that more than a third of respondents said that during the first lockdown they drank more alcohol.

Global phenomenon

Energy consumption is down not just in Europe but worldwide. The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that corona has induced the “biggest shock to the global energy system since World War II.” The IEA expects global energy demand to decline by 6% in 2020, Europe’s demand by 11%. Similarly, it anticipates that global carbon emissions will fall by 8%. The decline was even steeper—17%—during the first lockdown.

Beginning in July, however, when the restrictions had largely been lifted worldwide, emissions immediately returned to their earlier levels. So it’s definitely too early to declare that global warming has been defeated.

Disclaimer

The contents of this website are created with the greatest possible care. However, Uniper SE accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness and topicality of the content provided. Contributions identified by name reflect the opinion of the respective author and not always the opinion of Uniper SE.

You might also like

Atomkraft, Atomkraftwerk
Energy • Economy • Innovation The future of nuclear power Thomas Schmidt • 8 min.
Energy • Economy Can electricity be both renewable and reliable? Hans-Joachim Ziegler • 5 min.
Energy • Climate Cutting carbon cost-effectively Hans-Joachim Ziegler • 6 min.
Energy • Innovation Will hydrogen’s future arrive? Hans-Joachim Ziegler • 7 min.
Energy • Climate • Economy Can our emissions be undone? Hans-Joachim Ziegler • 5 min.
Energy • Innovation • Science A British biologist’s uncanny clairvoyance Dariush Jones • 6 min.
Energy • Society • Climate A new era, a new color, a new world view Dariush Jones • 5 min.
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
Energy • Society • Economy Russia modernizes its fossil power plants Dariush Jones • 7 min.
Energy • Society • Innovation Less fretting about jetting Thomas Schmidt • 4 min.
Energy • Innovation Harnessing more renewable energy, decarbonizing industry Thomas Schmidt • 3 min.
Energy • Event Debate.Energy Conference: Best of Jochen Brenner • 15 min.
Energy • Society “Corona is accelerating developments that we didn’t expect for several years” Hannah Meisters • 4 min.
Energy • Innovation “As green as hydrogen can get” Hans-Joachim Ziegler • 6 min.
Energy • Climate #Anthropause: is corona climate-friendly? Hans-Joachim Ziegler • 7 min.
Energy • Climate • Politics • Economy Gas is the ideal enabler of a successful energy transition Andreas Schierenbeck, Vorstandsvorsitzender Uniper SE • 4 min.
Joe Biden
Energy • Society • Climate • Politics Biden's climate plan: jobs, workers, unions. Oh, and clean energy too. Dariush Jones • 6 min.
Energy • Innovation • Economy A different incentive for energy efficiency Thomas Schmidt • 7 min.
Donald Trump
Energy • Society • Politics • Climate Donald Trump's climate policy: “A golden age of energy dominance” Dariush Jones • 7 min.
Bremst der Coronavirus die Energiewende aus?
Energy • Climate • Society Opportunity or obstacle? What corona means for the energy transition Hans-Joachim Ziegler • 9 min.
Energy • Innovation • Climate Podcast: "Städte spielen eine zentrale Rolle für die Energiewende" Jochen Brenner • 30 min.
Wasserstoff: Energieträger der Zukunft
Energy • Climate • Opinions Hydrogen: Jules Verne’s vision brought to life Andreas Schierenbeck, Vorstandsvorsitzender Uniper SE • 8 min.
Energy • Innovation Nuclear fusion: elation or illusion? Hans-Joachim Ziegler • 5 min.
Energy • Economy • Science Fuel cells for passenger cars: hope or hype? Hans-Joachim Ziegler • 8 min.
Energy • Climate Avast those emissions! Dariush Jones • 8 min.
Power-to-Gas-Anlagen
Energy • Economy A solution for Germany’s green power glut Thomas Schmidt • 6 min.
Energy • Opinions • Society Soll ich mir ein E-Auto kaufen, Prof. Schuh? Jochen Brenner • 25 min.
Follow us on Social Media
Follow us
on Social Media