Renewables overtook fossil fuels in EU electricity mix in 2020: Report

Susanna Twidale, Reuters

Posted at Jan 25 2021 09:42 AM

An aerial view shows power-generating windmill turbines in a wind farm in Morchies, France, November 8, 2020. Pascal Rossignol, Reuters file photo

LONDON - Renewables overtook fossil fuels as the European Union’s main source of electricity for the first time in 2020 as new projects came online and coal-power shrank, a report showed on Monday.

Renewable sources such as wind and solar-generated 38 percent percent of the 27-member state bloc’s electricity in 2020, with fossil fuels such as coal and gas contributing 37 percent, the report by think tanks Ember and Agora Energiewende showed.

Electricity production share in 27 member countries of the European Union

Denmark achieved the highest proportion of wind and solar power, which contributed 61 percent of its electricity needs in 2020. Ireland achieved 35 percent and Germany 33 percent.

Countries with the lowest share of renewables, below 5 percent, were Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the data showed.

Curbs on homes and businesses designed to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus led to a 4 percent drop in overall electricity demand in the EU last year, but the impact was felt more keenly by fossil fuel producers, the report showed.

Coal-fired power generation fell 20 percent in 2020 and has halved since 2015 it said.

“Coal generation fell in almost every country, continuing coal’s collapse that was well in place before Covid-19,” the report said.

Many European countries are phasing out polluting coal-plants in order to meet emission reduction targets, but low electricity prices amid the pandemic lockdowns also made some coal plants unprofitable to run compared with cheaper renewable generation.

“Renewables will keep rising, because we keep installing more and more. The jury’s out as to whether fossil fuels will rebound but if they do rebound it’s not expected to be by a lot,” Dave Jones, Ember’s senior electricity analyst said.

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