Renewables ‘overtook fossil fuels as the EU main electricity source for first time in 2020’

Wind and solar generated a fifth of Europe’s electricity last year, a new report finds

Renewables left fossil fuels behind and became Europe’s main source of electricity for the first time in 2020.

The independent climate and energy think tank Ember has published a new report, which finds that renewable energy sources generated nearly 38% of the European electricity mix last year, up from 34.6% in 2019, and surpassed for the first time fossil-fired generation which dropped to 37%.

According to the analysis, wind generation rose 9% and solar generation rose 15% last year, generating a fifth of Europe’s electricity.

On the other hand, coal generation fell 20% in 2020 and has halved since 2015.

Denmark generated 62% of its electricity from wind and solar in 2020 while renewables in Czech Republic had their lowest share in the electricity mix with just 12%.

However, Ember’s analysis suggests the transition from coal to clean energy is still too slow for reaching 55% greenhouse gas reductions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.

The report estimates wind and solar generation growth must nearly triple to reach Europe’s 2030 Green Deal targets.

Dave Jones, 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 electrolysers.”

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