Renewables now outpace coal for electricity generation in EU

February 2nd, 2018

 The EU used more electricity from solar, wind and biomass than from coal in 2017, according to a new analysis by two leading think tank.

The joint study from Sandbag and Agora Energiewende show that wind, solar and biomass now accounts for just below 21 per cent of electricity produced in the EU, up 10 per cent from 2010. This is more than the total energy from coal (20.6 per cent) and gas (19.7 per cent), the report found.

The adoption of wind power was greater than any other renewable in the EU last year, while biomass take-up is declining in Europe. The report states that this a positive outcome due to the growing concerns over the use of biomass to produce energy.

CO2 emissions remained steady across Europe, however, due to a significant decline in the hydropower as a result of a decline in rainfall and snowfall and a fall in electricity generation from nuclear plants. The report also points to the increase in electricity consumption in the EU for the third consecutive year.

Perovo Solar Park Photo: Activ Solar

 Renewable use across Member States

 The analysis demonstrated that the use of renewable energies has grown irregularly among the EU states, with the UK and Germany accounting for over half of the growth in renewable energy in the past three years.

The biggest growth occurred in Denmark, where 74 per cent of electricity came from renewables, contrasting with small increases in France, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia and Czech Republic.

According to the Director of European Energy Policy at Agora Energiewende, Mattias Buck, the progress on renewables demonstrate that the goal of reaching 35 per cent of renewable energy in 2030 is possible. He warned, however, that this will rely on all the EU countries entering into the energy transition.

Sandbag analyst, Dave Jones, added that countries need to shut down coal plants to make a biggest impact on emissions reductions as they generate roughly 15 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU.

Speaking at the Irish Renewable Energy Summit in Croke Park earlier this week, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Jim Gannon, said that preliminary data for 2017 indicates that renewables accounted for 30 per cent of electricity generation for the first time in Ireland.

About the Author

Felipe Wasserstein

Felipe is studying for an MA in Journalism and Media Communications from Griffth College Dublin. He is passionate about the environment, history, and cinema.

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