Eurelectric, organization that represents the interests of the electricity industry in Europe, issued recently an analysis on the impact of COVID 19 on customers and society.
Here are the main conclusions:
- The disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis is highlighting how much modern societies rely on electricity. Electricity is critical for operating all medical equipment in the hospitals. It ensures the timely communication of important information between governments and citizens. It allows millions of people now confined to their homes to resort to teleworking to do their jobs and e-commerce sites to do their shopping.
- Electricity demand is affected differently across markets. In Germany changes have been minimal. France and Italy have seen a significant drop in demand of +/- 20%. Prices have dropped across the EU to MWh prices around 20 €/MWh in most countries. Carbon prices have dropped by some 40%.
- As providers of essential services, energy companies have protocols and contingency plans in place to ensure the normal operation of their facilities and delivery of services. Utilities have been swift in taking action to isolate and protect workers in critical functions and we see no risks regarding security of supply for the moment. However, it is of utmost importance to ensure mobility of key personnel for inspection, operation and maintenance of power plants and grid installations.
- Electricity suppliers are working hand with hand with governments and many are postponing the payment of invoices for vulnerable customers and small businesses facing severe difficulties. A number of energy companies throughout Europe have also taken voluntary initiatives to support their customers such as payment arrangements and no disconnection policy.
- Even if there are currently no system-threatening situations at hand, the power sector is naturally impacted by the restrictions introduced by EU governments to combat the spread of virus. Low prices, government interventions and customers struggling to pay will inevitably affect the balance sheets of utilities.
- Government bailout packages tend to be focused on the most immediately impacted industries. In order to support a sustainable recovery that underpins EU climate objectives, recovery programmes and investments should be targeted to initiatives that can facilitate accelerated decarbonisation and electrification.
In this context, Eurelectric calls on national governments and EU institutions to:
o Consider additional action or greater flexibility over guidelines and regulations where needed to allow specialised personnel to travel for inspection, operation and maintenance of critical installations and ensure that control centres and plants remain sufficiently staffed.
o Take the necessary measures to help energy companies tackle the financial pressure resulting from government decisions to postpone the payment of invoices where applicable.
o Ensure that European investment plans and economic recovery programmes are fully compatible with EU climate objectives and support electrification and decarbonisation of the EU economy by targeting investment in technologies critical for the energy transition.
Please read the full report here: