Hydropower, along with other low-carbon sources of power such as wind and solar PV, are set to reach 40% of global electricity generation in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
On 30 April, the IEA published its Global Energy Review for 2020, setting out estimates for how energy consumption and CO2 emissions trends are likely to evolve over the rest of 2020 – assuming that must lockdowns implemented around the world are progressively eased in the coming months, followed by a gradual economic recovery.
The lockdown measures have led to a “major shift” to the likes of hydropower, wind and solar PV, the report said, with renewables predicted to be the only energy source to grow in 2020. This is down to priority access to grids and low operating costs. Solar PV and wind are on track to grow renewable electricity generation by 5% in 2020, with higher hydropower output also impacting this.
In contrast, electricity demand is facing a fall of 5% in 2020 – its largest since the Great Depression in the 1930s – with coal (8%) and natural gas (5%) also set for major reductions in demand and their combined share in the global power mix reaching a level not seen since 2001. Energy demand as a whole is to fall 6% in 2020, seven times larger than the decline following the 2008 global financial crisis, with electricity consumption levels and patterns on weekdays resembling those of a pre-crisis Sunday, due to lockdown measures.
IEA Executive Director, Dr Fatih Birol, suggested the report’s projections could spur fossil fuel companies to generate more clean energy, while also calling for governments to include clean energy at the heart of economic stimulus packages, ensuring there can be a green recovery. Birol said: “This crisis has underlined the deep reliance of modern societies on reliable electricity supplies for supporting healthcare systems, businesses and the basic amenities of daily life. But nobody should take any of this for granted – greater investments and smarter policies are needed to keep electricity supplies secure.”