Since the start of 2020, governments across the world have endorsed measures to limit social interactions due to the global pandemic ravaging the world and crippling economies. The Coronavirus also known as Covid-19 was said to have originated from Wuhan, China and has since then quickly spread across countries of the world. As at April 2020, there were over two million reported cases of coronavirus with about over hundred thousand reported deaths. Today, there are over 47 million cases of coronavirus with over a million reported deaths . This global pandemic has changed our lives, sent countries into recession and also disrupted global markets. The unprecedented interruption has fundamentally affected the energy sector and caused worry for stakeholders in the sector. According to reports, countries that were under full lockdown experienced an average of 25% decline in energy demand per week and those under partial lockdown an average 18%.
Figure 1 below shows the rate of changes in global energy demand over time from 1900 to the first quarter of 2020. The trend in the graph indicates a massive decline in global energy demand for 2020 compared to 2010. According to IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2020, fossil fuels took the biggest hit, while solar power now offers the cheapest electricity in history .
Figure 1: Changes in global primary energy demand (1900 – 2020)
Covid 19 and Renewable Energy
So far, renewable energy has been the most resilient to covid-19 lockdown measures. Renewable electricity has been largely unaffected while demand has fallen for other renewables energy. The first quarter of 2020 saw a 1.5% increase in the global use of renewable energy across all sectors compared to Q1 2019. The use of renewable energy is estimated to rise by over 1% this year despite the disruptions in supply chains or activity delays .
Figure 2: Annual growth of renewable electricity generation
Figure 3: Demand for Electricity in Nigeria
Source: IEA 2020
Figure 3 above shows the demand for electricity in Nigeria during the lockdown period. It indicates that residential demand for electricity increased significantly compared to the demand from the industrial and commercial customers. The National Control Centre (NCC) Osogbo, announced an unprecedented New Daily Energy Peak of 112,448.81 MWh on the 17th of April 2020. This was higher than the previous maximum value achieved on 15th April 2020, showing an increase of 856.98 MWh. They also forecasted that the total electricity demand in Nigeria could increase even after the lockdown.
On the 28th of October, 2020 (after the lockdown), the Transmission Company of Nigeria attained another all-time national peak of 5,459.50mw. Days later, on October 30, the TCN recorded a new peak of 5,520.40mw, which was 60.90mw higher than the previous peak.
On November 29, the TCN reported the collapse of the nation’s electricity grid, which led to blackouts in major cities of the country. However, the TCN was reportedly able to restore power to most parts of the country after a few hours.
Negative impacts of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s renewable energy sector
The global pandemic continues to run its course in countries all around the world, even as lockdown measures are being lifted, so as to allow economies slowly recover.
Projects that were under construction or in their early stages were particularly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. The pandemic halted production processes and also led to the inability to commence new ones as a result of shortages of key components and materials due to manufacturing companies adhering lockdown guidelines. In addition, companies that could operate had to limit the number of contractors on the production site to contain the spread of the virus causing delays.
For organizations seeking funding or projects with debt finance, investors have to reconsider committing their funds unless the implications of COVID-19 can be properly evaluated, quantified and mitigated. As a result of this, funding for some projects might not be possible until those organizations meet the demands of their investors. Furthermore, cash flow significantly dropped during the lockdown period and quite a number of companies were unable to access goods or even pay salaries as a result of the decline in revenue.
Positives and Recommendations
In times like this, access to electricity plays a vital role in safeguarding basic needs and services such as; Education, Food and Health care.
As citizens wait for the government to do its duty of ensuring these societal needs are met, it is pertinent to note that energy services are key to building an efficient, reliable healthcare system: from powering healthcare facilities to even supplying clean water. This is why some energy solutions companies in Nigeria have taken up some responsibility, to provide essential support services that help eliminate energy deficiency. This was done through provision of electricity services for health care centres, particularly COVID-19 isolation, testing, and diagnostic centres.
Solar energy systems were donated to isolation centres in Abuja, Enugu, Rivers, & Lagos to ensure the medical teams have uninterrupted power supply while working to curb the spread of covid-19 in Nigeria . In this context, renewable and sustainable energy solutions present a crucial opportunity to provide clean, cost-effective electricity to health centres, especially in rural areas.
In likewise fashion, the educational system has not been left out, as it plays a key role in our nation’s development. It is a known fact that access to stable electricity is a fundamental enabler of quality learning. Although some universities and learning institutions in Nigeria have started to embrace this clean renewable source of electricity, we still have a long way to go to ensuring this is implemented in all areas of our educational system.
Today, the food system in Nigeria is being threatened due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a decrease in trade, exports and caused damages to agricultural produce. This has caused the prices of food to skyrocket unimaginably. Economist’s project that food demand in Africa will increase by 60% in year 2030 as a result of population increase. There is therefore a need to start embracing the use of sustainable energy sources as it is a cheaper and more reliable way to ensure food security and enhance sustainable agriculture.
A study by RES4 Africa-UNECA explained that the deployment of renewable based solutions can be a pivotal contribution to Africa’s post-covid recovery and can improve the quality of life of millions, even after the pandemic. The global energy landscape is undergoing a major transformation and renewable energy is playing an increasingly vital role in helping countries develop modern, sustainable, and secure energy systems. Therefore, it is recommended that government and policy makers fully embrace these solutions to coordinate recovery initiatives in response to the pandemic, so as to increase their efforts in achieving the SDG 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030).
- Global Energy Review 2020: The impacts of the covid-19 crisis on global energy demand and CO2 emissions
- Solar is now ‘cheapest electricity in history’, confirms IEA. Retrieved from: http://www.carbonbrief.org
- Retrieved from: nairametrics.com/2020/04/27/covid-19-ardova-donates-solar-energy-systems-to-lagos-abuja
- Renewable Energy Electrifying COVID-19 Isolation centers in Nigeria. http://cleantechnica.com/2020/06/20/renewable-energy-is- electrifying-covid-19-isolation-centres-in-nigeria/amp