Renewables overtake coal in supplying EU electricity

PHOTO: KAREN BLEIER / AFP/Getty Images

A new analysis by Sandbag and Agora Energiewende shows that the European Union generated more electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass than coal in 2017, with renewables accounting for over 30per cent of Europe’s electricity for the first time.

Wind, solar and biomass generation surpassing coal is “incredible progress”, says the report, not least because coal power generation was more than twice that of wind, solar and biomass just five years ago.

The study titled “European Power Sector in 2017” suggests that Germany and the United Kingdom are leading the onward march of renewable technologies as both have contributed to 56per cent of the growth in renewables in the past three years (2014-2017).

“EU renewables growth has been increasingly reliant on the success story of wind in Germany, the UK and Denmark, which has been inspiring. If all countries in Europe engage in this, 35per cent renewable energy by 2030 is entirely possible. Solar deployment in particular is still surprisingly low, and needs to respond to the massive falls in costs,” said Matthias Buck Director of European Energy Policy, Agora Energiewende.

The growing share of renewables in the continent’s energy mix is set to further bolster global climate action in line with the central goal of the Paris Agreement, which is to keep the rise in global average temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees. Power generation from renewable sources is crucial to reducing carbon emissions and achieving the temperature goal.

The study notes that good wind conditions and huge investment into wind plants led to a massive 19per cent increase in wind generation in 2017 – two-thirds of this was in Germany and the UK. However, solar power generation grew only by 8perc ent despite huge recent price falls.

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