Decarbonizing the energy supply one pandemic at a time


This study explores different energy consumption vectors during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Portugal. Most of the workforce started working from home and resource consumption significantly shifted towards the domestic sector. The ensuing confinement protocols caused a shift in everyday life, which in turn significantly altered the energy supply and demand landscape. This event, although catastrophic in terms of loss of human life and economic development, can provide us with valuable data to study the potential of new strategies to achieve EU 2050 Energy goals. It was investigated whether the pandemic has opened a path and provided us with a partial answer to decarbonization in the form of home office practices as a possible energy efficiency measure. The present study shows that, in Portugal, there was a 15.7% reduction of primary energy consumption (accounting for electricity, natural gas and transport fuels) compared to 2019. The data suggest that actions targeting reduced mobility, such as home office practices and the decentralization of the workforce, could be a relevant energy efficiency measure.

subject category

Economics; Energy & Fuels; Environmental Sciences; Environmental Studies


Russo, MA; Ruivo, L; Carvalho, D; Martins, N; Monteiro, A

our authors


Thanks are due for the financial support to the PhD grant of M.A. Russo (SFRH/BD/144248/2019) and L. Ruivo (SFRH/BD/129901/2017). Thanks are due to the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) for the financial support to CESAM (UIDP/50017/2020 & UIDB/50017/2020), CICECO (UIDB/50011/2020 & UIDP/50011/2020) and TEMA (UID/EMS/00481/2013 & CENTRO-01-0145-FEDER-022083). D. Carvalho acknowledges FCT for his researcher contract (CEECIND/01726/2017).

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