UK, Germany and Spain reach renewable energy milestone
Renewables generated 38 percent of Europe’s electricity in 2020 - up 3.4 percent year-on-year - overtaking fossil-fired power generation for the first time, according to Ember and Agora Energiewende's fifth annual report.
At a country level, the UK, Germany and Spain achieved the milestone for the first time.
But the report warns that the transition from coal to clean energy is "still too slow" for reaching 55 percent greenhouse gas reductions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.
While Covid-19 had an impact in all countries, its impact on the overall trend from fossil fuels to renewables was quite limited.
"The rise in renewables was reassuringly robust despite the pandemic, and the fall in fossil-fired electricity could have been even more dramatic, had it not been for such a bounce-back in electricity demand and the worst year on record for nuclear generation," the report states.
Other key findings:
- Wind and solar are powering Europe’s renewables rise Wind generation rose 9 percent in 2020 and solar generation rose 15 percent
- But wind and solar generation growth must nearly triple to reach Europe’s 2030 green deal targets Currently national energy and climate plans only add up to about 72 TWh new wind and solar per year, not the 100 TWh/year needed
- Coal generation fell 20 percent in 2020, and has halved since 2015 Half of the drop in 2020 was due to a decrease in electricity demand, which fell by 4 percent due to the impact of Covid-19; and half was from additional wind and solar
- Gas generation fell only 4 percent in 2020, despite the pandemic Most of the fall in fossil was on coal rather than gas last year
- Nuclear generation fell by 10 percent in 2020 – probably the largest fall ever That also kept gas (and to a lesser-extent coal) generation from falling further
- Europe’s electricity in 2020 was 29 percent cleaner than in 2015 Carbon intensity has fallen from 317 grams of CO2 per Kwh in 2015 to 226 grams in 2020
Patrick Graichen, Director, Agora Energiewende, said renewables overtaking fossils is an important milestone in Europe’s clean energy transition, but warned against complacency.
"The European Green Deal – our response to the climate crisis – requires some 100 TWh of annual additions of renewables, a doubling of the deployment speed seen in 2020. Post-pandemic recovery programmes thus need to go hand-in-hand with accelerated climate action," he said.
W3 Energy signs technical operations contract with Luxcara
The wind farm, located outside of Piteå in northern Sweden, plans to have 137 wind turbines on full installation, with an expected capacity of more than 750 MW.
W3 Energy will be responsible for onsite technical operations management and local accounting services as well as operation and maintenance of the electrical infrastructure and transformer stations.
"This contract strengthens our position as a key player in onsite technical operations management. The Önusberget wind farm is the largest single-site wind power project in Europe and we are proud that Luxcara gives us the trust to support with the operational management of their investment", says W3 Energy's COO André Sjöström.
"The contract with Luxcara is extremely important to us and means that we take a firm grip on our home region. This contract allows us to continue to grow and we plan to continue to recruit in Piteå, Umeå, and Skellefteå."
The new contract with Luxcara means that W3 Energy manages approximately 15% of the renewable energy produced in Sweden and lays the foundation for continuing to build growth in other regions.
"Luxcara is an internationally respected asset manager in renewable energy, with high-quality investment criteria and a strong focus on diversity and sustainability. We share their view on sustainability, with a strong focus on environmental as well as social and ethical aspects", stated W3 Energy's CEO Pär Dunder.
Its past engagement with W3 combined with their track record from other large projects and their local experience were decisive factors for choosing W3 Energy, according to Philip Sander, Managing Director of Luxcara.
Global Wind Day will be held tomorrow (June 15), to promote wind's potential to reshape our energy systems, decarbonise economies and boost jobs and economic growth.
Onshore wind is now the cheapest form of new power generation in most of Europe, and offshore wind is not far behind with costs having fallen over 60% in three years, according to WindEurope.
Adrian Timbus, ETIPWind Chairman, said: “Wind energy can help electrify 75% of Europe’s energy demand and thereby deliver climate neutrality by 2050. But we must prioritise the development of the necessary technologies: next generation onshore and offshore turbines, electrification solutions for transport and for industry, and electrolysers for renewable hydrogen.”
Poland leads Europe's wind growth
Poland saw Europe's biggest increase in wind turbine energy production between 2000 and 2018, according to a Save on Energy study, and produced the fourteenth highest percentage of electricity by wind power overall in 2018.
Czechia has seen second highest percentage increase in electricity production generated by wind power. Despite having the second lowest proportion of electricity generated by wind power in 2018, the country previously produced the lowest percentage overall in 2000, so it has still seen a significant increase in wind turbine energy production over the years.
France has the third largest increase in wind turbine energy production throughout the period studied, with electricity production generated by wind power increasing from 0.009% in 2000, to 4.9% in 2018, while neighbouring Belgium experienced the fourth highest increase in wind energy production, with almost 10% of electricity produced being generated by wind power in 2018, compared to 0.02% in 2000.
Although Ukraine boasted the lowest percentage of electricity produced by wind turbines in 2018 (0.7%), the country had the fifth largest percentage increase since 2000, since only 0.003% of electricity production was generated by wind turbines.
By comparison, Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain each ranked as having the lowest percentage increases when it came to the percentage of electricity production generated by wind turbines between 2000 and 2018, and they lag considerably behind other European nations.
The EU wants wind to account for 50% of the continent's electricity by 2050. The Romanian Wind Energy Association recently launched a Code of Good Practice for renewable energy.
Top 10 countries in Europe for wind growth