Jan 19, 2021

EU’s renewable power doubles in 15 years but must accelerate

Renewables
Europe
emissions
Dominic Ellis
2 min
EEA study finds renewable power generation has nearly doubled since 2005 but warns emissions-cutting goals require faster expansion of renewable energy
EEA study finds renewable power generation has nearly doubled since 2005 but warns emissions-cutting goals require faster expansion of renewable energy...

Europe’s shift from fossil-fuel based electricity to renewable sources has reduced environmental problems while also cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, according to a report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Renewable power generation in the European Union has nearly doubled since 2005, producing 34 percent of the EU electricity in 2019, compared with the 38 percent produced by fossil fuels like coal and gas, the study finds.

The switch from fossil fuel-based power production to sources such as wind and solar since 2005 has significantly decreased emissions, while also yielding clear improvements in key environmental problems, the EEA explains in the study.

These include soil acidification, eutrophication – where freshwater becomes overloaded with nutrients, causing algal blooms and low oxygen levels – and the formation of particulate matter, which is a type of air pollution linked to 379,000 deaths in Europe in 2018.

“By substituting more polluting fossil fuels, expanding renewable electricity generation across the EU provides multiple opportunities to improve human health and the environment while mitigating climate change,” the EEA report says, adding that the agency had studied 16 power generation methods, of which coal, natural gas, and oil had the biggest life cycle impacts on the environment.

“Coal generation has by far the highest impact intensity overall, leading to most impacts across the categories that we looked at and across all years,” EEA energy and environment expert Mihai Tomescu highlights.

However, the report stresses renewable energy sources are not ‘zero-impact’, with the production of power by incinerating waste having an effect on freshwater toxicity, while biomass energy is associated with intensified land occupation and the formation of particulate manner, albeit a tiny amount compared with what is produced by burning coal.

Despite all the positive changes in the last 15 years, Europe cannot rest on its laurels. Meeting EU emissions-cutting goals will require an even faster expansion of renewable energy sources, requiring a power sector that is 70 percent based on renewables by 2030, the report adds. Last year wind delivered around 15 per cent of Europe's electricity and the plan is to roll out 300GW of offshore wind facilities by 2050. 

Given this expected growth, the EU will need to tackle potential environmental impacts from renewables in a better manner. For example, better reuse of materials could help curb the environmental impact of mining the metals and purifying the silicon used to make solar PV panels.

The European Investment Bank recently approved new financing totalling €5.9 billion (£5.3bn) to accelerate investments in renewable energy, sustainable transport and energy efficiency across Europe and the world.

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Jul 22, 2021

Octopus Renewables buys Eclipse Power

OctopusRenewables
Renewables
Acquisitions
UK
Dominic Ellis
3 min
The deal, completed with funds managed by Octopus, furthers Octopus’ involvement in the electricity distribution sector

Octopus Renewables has strengthened its electricity distribution profile by fully acquiring Eclipse Power for an undisclosed sum.

The deal, which was completed with funds managed by Octopus, furthers Octopus’ involvement in the electricity distribution sector, having worked with Eclipse since 2018. It will allow Eclipse to continue the expansion of its team, while also investing in its systems, technology, and pipeline, with the ambition of making it one of UK’s leading IDNOs.

Eclipse has secured a portfolio of more than 10,000 connections across residential, industrial, commercial, battery storage and electric vehicle charging customers. Given the focus on electrification of heat, transport and industry in the UK, Eclipse is expected to play an important role in facilitating the UK’s energy transition.

Octopus Renewables is the largest investor of utility scale solar power in Europe, as well as a leading investor in onshore wind and biomass, managing a global portfolio valued at more than £3.5 billion. Institutional investor Nest partnered with the company in March.

Peter Dias, Investment Director, Octopus Renewables, said: “Having worked with Eclipse since 2018 and seeing their exciting growth, we’re thrilled to be able to make this acquisition and support the team to maintain this momentum.

“The acquisition of Eclipse is part of our strategy to identify and back great management teams that are supporting the energy transition. With ongoing support and investment, our investee businesses will have access to the expertise, business networks and financing to be able to scale faster and help contribute towards the UK’s net-zero goals.

“High-quality management of the distribution networks is going to be critical for the UK, and we are very pleased to be directly supporting the decarbonisation of heat, transport, and industry through this acquisition of Eclipse.”

Gary Gay, Managing Director, Eclipse, added Octopus shares a clear understanding of the important role that electricity distribution networks will play in the UK’s drive towards net-zero, and importance of a customer-focussed approach for building future smart distribution networks.

“With that, we are excited to now be part of the Octopus Group, with this investment helping us to reach the next stage of our growth journey and contribute to a greener, more efficient electricity network in the UK.”

Global renewables updates

ReNew Power recently won a 200MW/ac Interstate Transmission System (ISTS) solar generation project in an auction conducted by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company. ReNew Power expects to sign a 25-Year Power Purchase Agreement with the utility by the third fiscal quarter of 2022 to supply clean energy to Maharashtra at a tariff of Rs 2.43/ kWh (~US$0.033).

Natel Energy, a supplier of sustainable hydropower solutions, has announced a $20M funding round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and supported by Chevron Technology Ventures.
The company will use the funding to deploy its Restoration Hydro Turbine (RHT), which enables cost-effective production of distributed reliable renewable energy.

Duke Energy Florida plans to invest an estimated $1 billion in 10 new solar power plants across Florida, including the construction of four new sites, which will begin in early 2022 and will take approximately 9 to 12 months to complete. Construction of all 10 sites is projected to be finished by late 2024.

LG Electronics has made public its commitment to transition completely to renewable energy by 2050 as a key component of its sustainability strategy. 

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