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Nordic Summit 2020: Will COVID-19 put a halt to renewable energy investments?

Head of Division at the International Energy Agency Tim Gould gives his verdict on how COVID-19 will impact the global energy sector and investments in renewable energy. Nordic Summit is a recurring annual event for Danske Bank’s corporate and institutional clients.

Through Nordic Summit 2020 - this year transformed into a series of virtual sessions - Danske Bank sheds light on the current COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences for the global economy and the society as a whole.

Tim Gould, Head of Division at the International Energy Agency, talks about COVID-19’s implications for the global energy sector, incl. the importance of OPEC+ policies on the oil market, the effects of re-opening of economies on global energy consumption, and the implications of the crisis on investments in renewable energy sources. 

The session is moderated by Jakob Ekholdt Christensen, Head of International Macro and Emerging Markets in Danske Bank, and Jens Nærvig Pedersen, Senior Analyst in Danske Bank.

Watch a recap


Key takeaways from Gould

  • If a country is in full lockdown, it is experiencing roughly a 25% decline in energy demand. A partial lockdown means an 18% decline approx.
  • Electricity demand has been significantly reduced as a result of the lockdowns. An interesting aspect of that is that as electricity demand goes down, the renewables have been less affected. They have very low operating costs, and they often have priority dispatch. So, many power systems have had a glimpse of what it's going to be like when variable renewables, wind and solar PV are operating with a much higher share of overall generation. For power system operators, this has been a real-time experiment in how to handle higher shares of wind and solar.
  • There has been a huge shift this year, with nearly a trillion dollars less spent on oil than in the past. This means that for the first time in 2020, the world's consumers are likely to be spending less on oil than they are on electricity.
  • The COVID-19 crisis has caused a significant drop in energy investments, in particular in the oil sector. It may turn out to be the peak of the role of the oil sector in the global economy or lead to supply scarcity in some years’ time.
  • In contrast, investments in renewable energy resources have been more resilient during the crisis. However, investments are still way below the levels needed to reach the global climate accord goals.

About Gould

  • Head of Division at the International Energy Agency (IEA), which is one of the world’s most authoritative sources for strategic insight on long-term energy and environmental trends. As Head of Division, he is responsible for the work on all aspects of energy supply. As of 2018, he also oversees the Agency’s work on investment, including the World Energy Investment Report.
  • Co-directs the World Energy Outlook series, which offers projections for all regions, fuels and energy technologies under different scenarios, and considers their implications for energy markets, energy security and emissions. As part of this work, Tim Gould has led in-depth analysis of major oil and gas-exporting economies.
  • Before joining the IEA in 2008, he worked on European and Eurasian energy issues in Brussels and has ten years of experience in Eastern Europe. He graduated from Oxford University and has a post-graduate diploma from the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University.

Nordic summit - what you need to know

  • A recurring annual event for Danske Bank’s corporate and institutional clients, where we share a Nordic perspective on the most critical topics and megatrends.
  • The event includes a series of keynote speeches and panel debates with leading international experts, politicians and industry leaders on these subjects.
  • Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, it was decided to transform this year’s event into a series of virtual sessions all focusing on COVID-19. We are making the insights from the day available for everyone here on our website.