Covid-19: Which impacts for the energy and environment players?

Published on 24 April 2020 Read 25 min

The Covid-19 health crisis is in full swing. Energy and environment players, essential to our economy, have to adapt themselves to this unprecedented crisis. How are they reacting? Which actions are they taking to maintain their activity or to respond to the technological challenges imposed by this crisis? How do they stand together? In this article, Alcimed tries to answer these questions.

Energy and environment: vital activities for countries

The players in the energy (ORANO, EDF, RTE and ENEDIS) and environmental sectors (SUEZ, VEOLIA) are essential parts of our economy that cannot stop their activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, electricity production and transmission, water production and wastewater treatment, and waste management are key activities for our health system in response to this major crisis.

For example, RTE has adapted by maintaining the activities that are essential for the transmission of electricity. The maintenance of substations and lines, and also real-time network management activities (IT, dispatching, etc.) are the only activities currently maintained.

A 15% decrease in electricity consumption, implying a higher share of renewable energy in the energy mix

According to the director of the IEA (International Electricity Agency), the shutdown of plants and companies in countries that have taken strong containment measures implies a decrease in power demand by 15%. One consequence is that power operators have less flexibility in managing peak consumption. Indeed, they can no longer use the elimination of consumption from industry, for example, and therefore have to adapt.

Another impact of this reduction in electricity demand is the increase in the share of renewable energy in the overall energy mix. Indeed, the production of coal or gas power plants is reduced to the minimum to compensate for this drop in demand. This therefore artificially increases the share of wind and solar power in production. For energy players, the situation is unprecedented. It is an interesting, life-size test to prepare themselves for the future and the increase in the share of renewables in the energy mix.

New waste streams to consider with the Covid-19 crisis

Quarantine also implies a significant change in waste streams. The quantities of waste from businesses (industry, restaurants, etc.) have decreased significantly in favor of household waste. The collection and treatment of this waste must therefore be adapted. Finally, the pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in hospital waste. Out of respect for precautionary principles, this waste is less well sorted than usual and more easily destroyed because it is potentially contaminated by the coronavirus.

Innovative partnerships between energy and environment players to face the COVID-19 crisis

Air Liquide, PSA, Valéo and Schneider Electric have partnered to meet the high demand for respirators. They have announced that they will produce 10,000 respirators in 50 days through this consortium. Air Liquide, producer of these respirators, is driving the project. PSA is making its production lines available to assemble the central block of the respirators. In addition to operators, Schneider Electric must provide the equipment needed to reorganize the existing production lines and its expertise in optimizing them. Finally, Valéo is responsible for managing the supply of the equipment needed to produce these respirators.

This unprecedented initiative highlights new possible synergies between these players.


In conclusion, these few initiatives show the strong adaptation of energy and environment players in the face of this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. Today, they combine their know-in service to the community, alone or in collaboration, to meet the technical and organizational challenges imposed by this crisis. New synergies are emerging. This will have consequences, that are difficult to measure today, for these players in the long-term. The Energy, Environment and Mobility team is therefore proud to support them every day and is ready to accompany them.

About the author

Guillaume, Project Manager in Alcimed’s Energy, Environment and Mobility team in France

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