By Chris Mbori

Covid-19 pandemic has sent shock waves in almost every sector and most sectors of the economy have been hard hit. There are however some sectors that are thriving. Restricted movement, stay at home and inter county lock in orders have forced factories, offices and other buildings to close.

The shutdown of schools and other public facilities have also rendered them ghost towns. These closures have led to a decline in energy requirements and energy consumption. Italy has reported a 27% drop in energy consumption since they started their lockdown while the USA energy consumption has fallen to a 16-year low. The global energy demand is likely to plummet by at least 6%. This is almost the amount of energy used in the whole of India alone!

On 13th March 2020, Kenya reported its first patient who tested positive for Corona Virus. Thereafter, there have been a raft of measures aimed to contain the virus and stop its exponential spread. Some of the measures included closing of schools and public facilities, enforcing of a 7pm to 5am curfew and a cessation of movement in and out of some counties. While a total lockdown has not been ruled out, the government has encouraged as many people as possible to work from home.

Today, we are going to evaluate how 5 different industries have reacted to the Covid-19 measures based on their energy consumption. We have put real time energy consumption meters in these 5 different industries and thus we are able to see how their energy profile has changed especially after the 13th of March 2020. The five industries include a school, two hotels, telecom site, a shopping mall and a flower farm.

1. A School Based In Nairobi

Immediately the first covid-19 case was announced in Kenya, schools and other educational facilities were given a 3 day notice to close and send students home. Below is the energy consumption profile of a school we are monitoring.

There is a sharp drop of energy consumption in this school because the students were sent home. They had a daily base load after shutdown. This is because some staff live in the school and other areas like the kitchen and laundry still consume some energy. From the analysis, there could be opportunity to see what they can do reduce further on the base load and reduce their energy cost since they are not in operation.

Below is a pie chart showing their energy balance after the whole school has been closed down:

The Kitchen and senior school are still consuming energy and that can be an area to look further and conserve energy.

The table below shows that the school reduced its energy consumption by around 48%.

Before Covid AverageAfter Covid Average% Change
20611078-48%

2. Hotel Industry

We have our real time monitors in various hotels and have picked two hotels for purposes of this comparative analysis. One in the Capital City of Nairobi and another outside of Nairobi in a smaller town.

I. Hotel in the Capital City

The hotel in the city had its energy consumption drop by about half. Restaurants and hotels were ordered to shut down and only operate take away and delivery services. Bars were totally closed down.

Before Covid AverageAfter Covid Average% Change
1,614821-49%

The picture below shows how daily energy consumption change after the country got its first patient tested positive for Covid-19.

The energy balance of this hotel in the city shows that most of its lighting and plug loads still contribute to consuming a lot of energy in the facility.

II. Hotel outside the Capital City

The hotel outside the Capital city of Nairobi reduced its energy consumption by around 37%. The figure is a bit lower than the previous hotel in the capital and this could be because there were fewer reactionary measures for hotels outside the capital at the initial announcement of the first Covid-19 case in Kenya. The less hit counties have had more lax implementation of the government directives.

Before Covid AverageAfter Covid Average% Change
1108698-37%

The picture below shows the daily energy consumption of the period before and after 13th of March 2020.

Even with very low occupancy, the hotel shows energy consumption in key areas like the laundry and kitchen. The other loads like lighting and plug loads are also very significant in this hotel.

3. Flower Industry

The flower industry is one of the most hard-hit industries in Kenya since its majorly an export business and most target markets like Europe and China were already closed because of the Corona virus.

Analysis of their energy consumption before and after the first case of Corona virus showed a drop in energy consumption of about 19%.

Before Covid AverageAfter Covid Average% Change
23391888-19%

4. Shopping Mall Super Market

After the first corona virus patient announcement and a partial lockdown declared, the supermarket we are monitoring reduced its energy consumption by about 15%. This could be because of controlled movement in and out of supermarkets in Kenya. The curfew also reduced the working hours of this supermarket and thus justifies the reduction in energy consumption.

Before Covid AverageAfter Covid Average% Change
200170-15%

5. Telecom Data Centre

The last industry we monitored was the telecom industry. We had one of our real time monitors in a coastal town. And as much as we expected an increase in energy consumption due to increase activity in the telecom space due to increased online activity by companies working from home, the data from the meter showed the contrary. The energy consumption reduced by 8%.

Before Covid AverageAfter Covid Average% Change
4541-8%

Conclusion

All the industries we monitored showed a reduction in energy consumption as shown in the table below.

IndustryEnergy Reduction by %
School-48%
Hotel in City-49%
Hotel out of City-37%
Flower Farm-19%
Shopping mall Supermarket-15%
Telecom Data Centre site-8%

Schools and Hotels seem to be hardest hit because of recording zero on occupancy levels. Shopping malls and flowers farms also recorded a drop of energy and this could be because of reduced operation hours because of the curfew. It is important therefore for schools and hotels to ensure that they do not consume as much during this pandemic period when they have very low occupancy in their facilities.

Malls can also lookout on the changes in baseload and ensure no idle equipment are running during curfew times.

The telecom space recorded the least drop in energy consumption, in as much as there is increased traffic and activities like internet data, mobile money and increased phone calls. It is possible that traffic has no correlation to energy consumption in the telecom space. This is something worth investigating.

From this analysis we can tell that maybe the whole country will also experience a reduction in demand since the commercial and industrial space are the largest consumers of electrical energy in Kenya. This drop of demand is not a good thing because the country is trying to increase its electricity demand due to surplus generation. Reduction in energy consumption is only very good if we either increase productivity or keep producing at the same level.