IEA's Executive Director, Dr Fatih Birol.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created an unprecedented global health and economic crisis.

The energy sector, as a key enabler of modern life, is uniquely affected by this crisis but is also critical for global and national response and recovery efforts, says International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director, Dr Fatih Birol.

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Energy security remains a major area of attention and the crisis highlights the critical value of electricity infrastructure and know-how, underpinning the response to the coronavirus pandemic

Birol adds that it demonstrates the central role and importance of electricity, and what policy makers need to do in order to ensure that current and future systems remain reliable even as they are transformed by the rise of clean energy technologies.

He urged that when governments respond to these interlinked crises, “they must not lose sight of a major challenge of our time: clean energy transitions”.

Efforts to counter COVID-19 economic damage

Governments are drawing up stimulus plans in an effort to counter the economic damage from the coronavirus.

“These packages offer an excellent opportunity to ensure that the essential task of building a secure and sustainable energy future doesn’t get lost amid the flurry of immediate priorities,” said Birol.

The IEA is providing up-to-date data and rigorous analysis on the effects of the crisis, and recommendations for how governments and industry can make smart decisions that will lead to the affordable, secure and sustainable energy systems of the future.

Millions of people are now confined to their homes, resorting to teleworking to do their jobs, e-commerce sites to do their shopping, and streaming video platforms to find entertainment.

The IEA highlighted that a reliable electricity supply underpins all of these services, as well as powering the devices most people take for granted such as fridges, washing machines and light bulbs.

“The huge disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis has highlighted how much modern societies rely on electricity,” stated Birol.