Impact analysis of COVID-19 responses on energy grid dynamics in Europe


COVID-19, Electricity consumption, Electricity generation, Governmental restrictions, Renewable share, Electricity grid&#8221;,</p> <p>abstract = &#8220;When COVID-19 pandemic spread in Europe, governments imposed unprecedented confinement measures with mostly unknown repercussions on contemporary societies. In some cases, a considerable drop in energy consumption was observed, anticipating a scenario of sizable low-cost energy generation, from renewable sources, expected only for years later. In this paper, the impact of governmental restrictions on electrical load, generation and transmission was investigated in 16 European countries. Using the indices provided by the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, precise restriction types were found to correlate with the load drop. Then the European grid was analysed to assess how the load drop was balanced by the change in generation and transmission patterns. The same restriction period from 2020 was compared to previous years, accounting for yearly variability with ad hoc statistical technique. As a result, generation was found to be heavily impacted in most countries with significant load drop. Overall, generation from nuclear, and fossil coal and gas sources was reduced, in favour of renewables and, in some countries, fossil gas. Moreover, intermittent renewables generation increased in most countries without indicating an exceptional amount of curtailments. Finally, the European grid helped balance those changes with an increase in both energy exports and imports, with some net exporting countries becoming net importers, notably Germany, and vice versa. Together, these findings show the far reaching implications of the COVID-19 crisis, and contribute to the understanding and planning of higher renewables share scenarios, which will become more prevalent in the battle against climate change.

Journal: Applied Energy
Page: 116045
Volume: 281