For the first time ever, the European Union (EU) has produced more electricity in a year from renewable energy sources than from fossil fuels. In 2020, the share of wind, solar, and other renewables accounted for 38% of all power generated in the EU, compared with 37% from fossil sources, according to a study by research groups Ember and Agora Energiewende.
Wind and solar together accounted for 20% of all power generated in the EU last year, with the highest share recorded in Denmark (61%), followed by Ireland (35%), Germany (33%), and Spain (29%), according to the study.
Coal is “forced into decline” by rapid wind and solar expansion
Describing the findings of the study as a “landmark moment,” Dave Jones, senior analyst at Ember, said that rapid expansion in wind and solar has forced coal into decline, adding that this is “just the beginning.”
Wind and solar output increased by 51 TWh in 2020, according to Patrick Graichen, director of Agora Energiewende. At the same time, electricity generation from coal dropped 20% last year, accounting for just 13% of overall electricity production in the EU.
The COVID-19 crisis had no impact on renewables growth in 2020
The report also noted that the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had no impact on the growth of renewables in 2020, despite a 4% decline in global demand for electricity.
Wind and solar seen pushing coal out of market in Western Balkans as well
Even in the Western Balkans, where fossil fuels still account for the bulk of electricity output, wind and solar are seen pushing coal out of the market. The region is likely to transition to energy systems in which the share of coal in power generation will be much lower than the current 70%, according to speakers at a recent regional conference organized by the RES Foundation.
According to Jasmina Trhulj, head of the Electricity Department at the Energy Community Secretariat, installed capacities for renewable sources have increased by 91% over the past year, which means that coal power plants will be squeezed out of the market.