Apr 9, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Coronavirus spurs declines in power consumption

Analysis from a University of Chicago energy think tank takes stock of the steep declines in power consumption in multiple regions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: While the stunning drop in oil demand is forcing a geopolitical reckoning, changes in electricity consumption provide their own metric of economies thrown into reverse.

What they found: Fiona Burlig, an assistant professor of public policy at UChicago, says the U.S. decline already matches what happened during the great recession over a decade ago.

  • "This is particularly striking because we haven't even reached the apex of virus caseload yet, from everything the epidemiologists seem to be saying," she said.
  • And when it comes to India, Burlig provides a sense of scale, noting that power demand there has been growing rapidly for many years.
  • "The electricity consumption in India from April 1 to April 6, 2020, is back at 2013–14 levels — a pretty shocking decline," she said in an email exchange.

Go deeper: Another Way to See the Recession: Power Usage Is Way Down (New York Times)

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