Electricity, More Indispensable Than Ever – IEA

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The huge disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis has highlighted how much modern societies rely on electricity. Millions of people are now confined to their homes, resorting to teleworking to do their jobs, e-commerce sites to do their shopping, and streaming video platforms to find entertainment. A reliable electricity supply underpins all of these services, as well as powering the devices most of us take for granted such as fridges, washing machines and light bulbs.  

In many countries, electricity is critical for operating the ventilators and other medical equipment in the hospitals treating the soaring numbers of sick people. In such an unsettling and rapidly evolving situation, electricity also ensures the timely communication of important information between governments and citizens, and between doctors and patients.

The coronavirus crisis reminds us of electricity’s indispensable role in our lives. It’s also providing insights into how that role is set to expand and evolve in the years and decades ahead. Read more in Dr Birol’s commentary.

Putting clean energy at the heart of stimulus plans

The coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented global crisis, and dealing with the public health emergency is the immediate priority. As governments respond to the economic repercussions from the disruption caused by the virus, they must not lose sight of a major challenge of our time: clean energy transitions, according to Dr Birol. 

Governments are drawing up stimulus plans in an effort to counter the economic damage from the crisis. These stimulus packages offer an excellent opportunity to ensure that the essential task of building a secure and sustainable energy future doesn’t get lost amid the flurry of immediate priorities. 

Large-scale investment to boost the development, deployment and integration of clean energy technologies – such as solar, wind, hydrogen, batteries and carbon capture (CCUS) – should be a central part of governments’ plans because it will bring the twin benefits of stimulating economies and accelerating clean energy transitions. The progress this will achieve in transforming countries’ energy infrastructure won’t be temporary – it can make a lasting difference to our future. Read the full commentary.

Oil producer economies are facing critical challenges

Global oil and gas markets are facing an unprecedented situation: demand is collapsing because of the impact of the coronavirus while supply, already overabundant, is significantly increasing.

 In some countries, large-scale production and exports of oil and gas provide vital income to finance their national budgets, which means volatility in global energy markets can translate almost instantly into macroeconomic pressure. When prices fall, these “producer economies” have often responded by trimming their spending, cutting salaries for public sector employees, and axing or delaying large capital projects. These measures have previously contributed to slower economic growth – or even contraction.

Recognising these growing structural pressures, some producers have announced ambitious reform efforts aimed at diversifying their economies and promoting private sector growth. The implication of such efforts is that oil revenues can be channelled into making the investments necessary to diversify the economy. Results of newly published IEA analysis underlines the strategic importance of such reform initiatives in producer countries.

Biogas and biomethane can play a role in clean energy transitions

Modern societies and economies produce increasing amounts of organic waste – such as agricultural residues, food waste and animal manure – that can be used to produce biogas and biomethane, clean energy sources with multiple potential benefits for sustainable development. Biogas offers a local source of power and heat for communities, and a clean cooking fuel for households. Upgrading it to biomethane brings all the energy system benefits of natural gas without the associated net emissions.

Every part of the world has significant scope to produce biogas and/or biomethane. The availability of sustainable feedstocks for these purposes is set to grow by 40% by 2040, according to our latest report, Outlook for Biogas and Biomethane. 

“As governments seek to accelerate their clean energy transitions, they should not forget the importance of low-carbon gases such as biomethane and biogas,” said Dr Birol. “Among other benefits, biogas and biomethane also offer a way to bring rural communities and industries into the transformation of the energy sector.”

The country takes action to support its services industry and engages on an industry-wide dialogue to study other measures for upstream operators and ongoing midstream projects. 

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