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JRC Smart Electricity Systems

The Immediate Impacts of COVID-19 on European Electricity Systems: A First Assessment and Lessons Learned


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The worldwide spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 forced most countries to intervene with policies and actions—including lockdowns, social-distancing and smart working measures—aimed at mitigating the health system and socio-economic disruption risks. The electricity sector was impacted as well, with performance largely reflecting the changes in the industrial and commercial sectors operations and in the social behavior patterns. The most immediate consequences concerned the power demand profiles, the generation mix composition and the electricity price trends. As a matter of fact, the electricity sectors experienced a foretaste of the future, with higher renewable energy penetration and concerns for security of supply. This paper presents a systemic approach toward assessing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the power sector. This is aimed at supporting decision making—particularly for policy makers, regulators, and system operators—by quantifying shorter term effects and identifying longer term impacts of the pandemic waves on the power system. Various metrics are defined in different areas—system operation, security, and electricity markets—to quantify those impacts. The methodology is finally applied to the European power system to produce a comparative assessment of the effects of the lockdown in the European context.