Session 5.2: COVID-19 and the Energy Sector: Policy Perspectives

June 9th, 2020

Description: This session included presentations on policy challenges and approaches for dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on the energy sector. The presentations presented an analysis of impacts of, and policy responses to, COVID-19 in the energy sectors of Southeast Asia, China, and Pakistan.

Moderator: Dan Millison, Consultant, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, Asian Development Bank

Scene-Setter Talk: David Elzinga, Senior Energy Specialist, Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Impact of COVID-19 on Renewable Curtailment and Capacity Planning in the 14th Five Year Plan in China
Presenter: Liutong Zhang, Director, WaterRock Energy Economics (HK) Ltd

Renewable curtailment has been improving in China since 2016, largely thanks to strong demand growth and improvement in transmission infrastructure via the Ultra-high Voltage system to export power out of the inland provinces. However, there is only limited progress on structural reform to improve the dispatch protocols and grid flexibility. COVID-19 has a material impact on power consumption, and there are signs that renewable curtailment has re-surged; these will also influence the planning of renewable capacity in the 14th Five Year Plan (2021-2025).

We have completed detailed studies on assessing how renewable curtailment has evolved in China, ranging from hydro-power plants in Yunnan and Sichuan to solar and wind plants in the three “North” regions. We talked about the evolution and causes of the renewables curtailment in China and discussed how COVID-19 will impact future renewable curtailment and planning using a robust analytical methodology and case studies.

COVID-19 and the Energy Sector: Impacts and Opportunities in SE Asia
Presenter: Jennifer Leisch, Principal, Two Degrees Group               

The countries of SE Asia are faced with pressing and unprecedented challenges as they respond to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With a significant drop in economic activity, countries are grappling with far-reaching impacts on the energy sector in both the near and long term. This decreased demand has also brought about opportunity - countries are experiencing the environmental benefits of lowered energy use, driving a global outcry for a clean energy transition to provide not only cleaner air, but the creation of jobs and economic growth. Resilience or the ability to plan for, respond to, and recover from threats plays a key role in addressing the impacts from COVID-19 in both the near and long term.

This report concisely communicated key energy sector impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic in SE Asia, and highlighted opportunities to build both near term and long-term resilience to threats such as this. It provided examples from the region of how utilities or system operators are addressing some of these impacts, and provided recommendations going forward. This paper discussed building long term energy sector resilience to threats such as COVID-19, and highlighted the role that clean energy can play in building a more resilient sector.

Public Perspective on the Impact of COVID-19 on Energy and Climate Change in ASEAN
Presenter: Beni Suryadi, Project Manager, ASEAN Climate Change and Energy Project (ACCEPT), ASEAN Centre for Energy

Finding from the survey on the public perspective on the impact of the Covid-19 on energy and climate change in ASEAN highlights that COVID-19 is affecting almost every sector, especially transportation and industry, with fossil fuels and renewable energy as the energy sources impacted the hardest. However, the public also noticed that climate emergencies have somewhat become neglected because of this sudden pandemic. Most people perceived a positive temporary effect on the climate as a consequence of lower economic activities. The Government should use this moment to mainstream the information about climate change mitigation into the society, to infuse a more sustainable economy and environment-friendly activities in our daily lives. Identifying the short-term, near-term, and long-term aftermaths are necessary to mitigate the undesirable effects. Climate change issues should not be neglected for too long because AMS are among the vulnerable countries at risk of climate disaster.


  • Jens Jaeger, Policy & Business Development Manager (Asia-Pacific), Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE)
  • Robin Hughes, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Clean Vehicle Solutions Asia Ltd