In the first half of 2020, renewable energy generated 40% of the Europe electricity, surpassing fossil fuels for the first time, at 34%. This decreased the CO2 emissions of the energy sector by 23% for the same period. This was revealed by a new report by the think tank on the Ember climate.
Renewable energy increased by 11% in the first half of 2020, compared to the same period last year. This was leaded by the growth of wind and solar energies, with new installations and favorable conditions during a mild and windy start of the year. Coal generated only 12% of Europe electricity in the first half of 2020.
Gas production also dropped by 6%. German coal was the hardest hit, with a 39% drop in production. For the first time, Germany has produced less coal-fired electricity than Poland. Poland now generates the same amount of electricity from coal as the remaining 25 EU countries (excluding Germany) put together, and unlike most other countries, including Germany, Poland does not plan to gradual removal of coal.
Its transition remains fundamental for a zero-emission Europe.
Solar and wind energies
Dave Jones, senior analyst at Ember, said: "This marks a symbolic moment in the transition of the electricity sector in Europe. For countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, struggling with the search for the right way to get rid of coal, there is now a clear way out.
The new European Green Deal will provide both new investments in the wind and solar sectors and the possibility of moving away from coal through an expanded Just Transition fund, which would help complete Europe's transition from coal to clean electricity."
The wind and solar sectors have seen unprecedented market shares this year, generating 21% of total European electricity and reaching even higher levels in Denmark, Ireland and Germany. In comparison, hydroelectric generated 13% of electricity in Europe, increasing by 12% compared to the same period last year due to the wetter conditions in the Nordic and Iberian regions.
Bioenergy generated 6% of electricity in Europe in the first half of 2020, although a small part is generated by the combustion of forest biomass to replace coal in power plants, thus not providing the same climatic benefits of renewable energies such as wind and solar.
Despite this, renewable energies, in particular wind and solar, have shown resilience even during the crisis. With steady growth in renewable energy generation, the remaining market share for fossil fuels is already decreasing.
This year, the study points out, the fossil fuel industry suffered a double hit, including a 7% drop in electricity demand during the coronavirus crisis that left them with even less to compete with. This resulted in an 18% drop in fossil fuel production in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year.
As the most expensive source of electricity, coal suffered the blow, falling by 32%, with a production of anthracite falling by 34% and lignite falling by 29% compared to 2019.