News Analysis

Another Corona Side Effect: Reduced Peak Electricity Demand

Flattening the COVID curve is also flattening electricity load curves, which may be a lesson for the building industry.

Just as COVID-19 has changed nearly every aspect of day-to-day life, the virus is upending deeply rooted patterns of the electric grid. Combined with initial signs of cleaner air, emboldened wildlife, and growing demand for local agriculture, some have wondered whether being confined to our homes has resulted in lower electricity use. We took a look at what exactly is happening with the electricity grid and whether we might expect a dip in carbon emissions from that sector.

Modest drops in energy use

Internationally, some countries have seen major drops in energy usage as COVID-19 forced businesses to close and manufacturing to cease. According to one estimate, energy use dropped 14% in China, 26% in Italy, and 18% in the U.K. Meanwhile, energy use in the U.S. has dropped only 7%. According to Mark Dyson, principal at the Rocky Mountain Institute, one reason might be that “stay-at-home orders are less widespread, and appear to be adhered to less consistently, in the U.S. compared to many other countries with national-level orders.” Others suggest that rising residential usage is currently offsetting what are significant drops in the commercial and industrial sectors.

Published May 4, 2020

Pearson, C. (2020, April 22). Another Corona Side Effect: Reduced Peak Electricity Demand . Retrieved from