The Italian Job

Source: Terna

What will happen to electricity demand if and when Australians are put into lockdown mode to slow the spread of COVID19? And what impact will this have on the management of the electricity system?
The idea of a lockdown is new in modern human experience. no one has really done it before, so the effect of this type of behaviour change has no real precedent. we might assume its effect would be like a sustained weekend or summer holiday period: electricity demand will increase in the household sector, but decline in the commercial and industrial sector.
Residential electricity demand comprises around 30 per cent of total demand, so a lockdown should reduce demand. Does it?
Perhaps the first insight we can get for this is to look at changing electricity demand patterns in northern Italy. This region has been progressively “locked down” in response to the virus since the end of February.
Demand data published by Italian transmission business Terna provides an intriguing insight into the initial electricity demand effects of a lockdown.
Like most developed economies, electricity demand follows a fairly regular 5:2 pattern: higher demand on weekdays and a regular drop in demand on weekends. This is the case in northern Italy.
Compared to the same period last year, A series of small regional lockdowns in northern Italy at the end of February had little impact on electricity demand. It was only when a full national lockdown was announced by the Italian Government on March 9 that electricity demand began to decline.
This suggests that clear, unequivocal direction from national governments may be more effective in enforcing behaviour change than by local governments. It is too early to tell the scale of the reduction in demand, but it is currently tracking around 5 per cent below “normal” demand for this time of year.