A report authored by think-tanks Agora Energiewende and Ember has highlighted how renewable energy is on the rise in Europe.
Electricity generated last year by wind and solar rose 9% and 15% respectively and when combined account for a fifth of Europe’s total electricity supply.
This has elevated renewable energy sources to the primary method of electricity generation in the continent for the first time over-taking fossil fuels, Europe’s electricity in 2020 was 29% cleaner than in 2015, while carbon intensity fell from 317g CO2/kWh in 2015 to 226g CO2/kWh in 2020.
“It is significant that Europe has reached this landmark moment at the start of a decade of global climate action” says Dave Jones, Ember’s senior electricity analyst and the lead author of the report. “Rapid growth in wind and solar has forced coal into decline but this is just the beginning. Europe is relying on wind and solar to ensure not only coal is phased out by 2030, but also to phase out gas generation, replace closing nuclear power plants, and to meet rising electricity demand from electric cars, heat pumps and electrolysers.”
Yet the report’s authors believe that the take-up of renewable energy needs to speed up, particularly at the expense of gas which has seen an increase in consumption in recent years.
The report highlighted that the Netherlands saw the highest annual growth (40%) in wind and solar in 2020, followed by Sweden (36%). Based on electricity supplied by wind and solar, Denmark generated 62% of its electricity from wind and solar in 2020, which was almost twice the share of the next-placed country – Ireland. According to the figures, Germany was third, and Spain overtook Portugal into fourth place.
Government statistics for the UK show that Renewable electricity generation was 29.4 TWh in Q3 2020, up 0.8 percent compared to the previous year. This included higher generation from offshore wind (8.0 TWh in Q3 2020), an 11 percent increase on the previous year and in line with increased offshore capacity.