Energy Load Shifts Because of Coronavirus
- Mar 19, 2020 4:16 pm GMT
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The unprecedented steps taken to help the US mitigate potential problems from the Coronavirus will create a ripple effect for energy producers. While the final impact will only be seen once the pandemic ends, it seems likely that energy usage will drop and usage patterns will shift, forcing energy producers to adjust their load expectations and delivery plans.
People are doing less: less interacting with friends, no group gatherings, limited commuting, and only necessary traveling to local retailers. Those changes translate into a drop in energy use overall. Bloomberg found that electric power demand in Italy decreased 7% once significant restrictions were put into place.
But individuals and families also do more. With fewer face-to-face interactions, many connect virtually. Millions of Americans employees work from home. Individuals and families are turning to virtual entertainment: downloading movies, Facetiming with friends, tweeting, and playing video games. In South Korea, Italy, and Seattle, residential Internet rose 40% , according to NPR.
So what does that mean for utilities? They should lower their expected usage numbers for the short term. Also, energy load patterns will change. Less energy will be needed in the typical weekday hubs, like urban downtowns and office parks. More energy will be consumed in neighborhoods. In sum, the current seven day, energy usage pattern will closely resemble the traditional weekend, so utilities need to adjust accordingly.