Renewables rose to generate 38% of Europe’s electricity, overtaking fossil-fired generation for the first time that fell to 37%, a report by Ember and Agora Energiewende revealed on Monday.
According to Ember and Agora Energiewende's fifth annual report tracking Europe’s electricity transition, this renewables increase of 3.4% from 2019 marks an important milestone in Europe's Clean Energy Transition.
At a country level, Germany and Spain, and the UK separately, also achieved this milestone for the first time.
The report showed, however, that while the COVID-19 pandemic impacted all countries, its effect on the overall trend from fossil fuels to renewables was quite limited.
"The transition from coal to clean is, however, still too slow for reaching 55% greenhouse gas reductions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050," the report said.
- Carbon Neutrality efforts
The results show that Europe's electricity in 2020 was 29% cleaner than in 2015.
"Carbon intensity has fallen from 317 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilowatt-hour in 2015 to 226 grams in 2020. Although coal generation has almost halved in that time, 43% of the coal decline has been offset by increased gas generation, slowing the reduction in carbon intensity," the report explained.
- Results are important milestone
Commenting on the recent report, Patrick Graichen, director of Agora Energiewende, although acknowledging that renewables overtaking fossils is an important milestone in Europe's clean energy transition, he said that more effort is needed to combat climate change.
"Let's not be complacent. The European Green Deal – our response to the climate crisis – requires some 100 TWh [terawatt-hours] of annual additions of renewables, a doubling of the deployment speed seen in 2020. Post-pandemic recovery programs thus need to go hand-in-hand with accelerated climate action," he said.
Dave Jones, a senior electricity analyst at Ember said it is significant that Europe has reached this landmark moment at the start of a decade of global climate action.
"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 electrolyzers,” he said.
By Gulsen Cagatay