Electricity demand is unlikely to return to normal levels even after the development of a coronavirus vaccine, according to a new report by scientists from Columbia University.
As government lockdowns to contain the pandemic ease, electricity use in the United States will likely remain 1.6 to 4 percent lower than it was in 2018, according to the report.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented changes in the ways people interact and approach economic activities,” the paper reads. “Electricity demand has declined and usage patterns have been altered, changes that could remain even after the pandemic ends.”
The scientists predict shifts in both residential and commercial power use, not unlike those that followed the 2008 financial crisis.
In the decade after that event, power demand grew by .5 percent, compared with 1.7 percent in the decade prior, as residents and businesses alike took advantage of new energy efficiency and solar technology.
“Experience from the global financial crisis suggests that load is unlikely to immediately revert to previous levels following the impact of COVID-19, and that load growth may be further dampened,” the report said.
This article first appeared on the Houston Chronicle – an Energy Voice content partner. For more from the Houston Chronicle click here.