EU saved €11bn in gas imports thanks to solar and wind: report
Renewable energies have allowed the European Union to avoid €99bn in fossil gas imports since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, with an increase of €11bn compared to last year thanks to record growth in wind and solar capacity, according to a new report.
Solar and wind power have produced a quarter of EU electricity since March 2022, allowing to avoid 70 billion cubic metres of gas imports, according to a new study carried out by think tanks E3G and Ember.
In turn, this also helped mitigate the reduction in hydroelectricity generation caused by droughts and a decline in nuclear production caused by maintenance and a series of failures in the French nuclear fleet.
“Wind and solar are already helping European citizens,” said Chris Rosslowe, senior analyst at Ember. “But the future potential is even greater,” he added.
Record rollout of renewables
Since March, 19 EU Member States have been achieving record wind and solar electricity generation, the study shows. Among them, Poland is the country with the greatest percentage of year-on-year increase (+48.5% compared to 2021), while Spain registered the greatest absolute generation increase.
A recent study by Ember and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) confirmed that the war in Ukraine and the price of fossil fuels have accelerated the EU’s energy transition, with EU Member States recognising the role of renewables for energy security and announcing significant increases in their deployment.
“The EU has put the energy transition on turbocharge, with governments getting serious about cutting out costly fossil fuels,” said Pawel Czyzak, senior energy and climate data analyst at Ember.
“There’s a consensus that ramping up wind and solar power quicker can help the EU head off multiple crises,” he added.
The analysis demonstrates how the latest EU countries’ plans are more ambitious and propose a decrease of 31% in fossil fuel electricity generation by 2030 compared to their 2019 strategies.
In the last two years, 19 European governments have increased the ambition of their decarbonisation strategy, with some of them planning to generate close to all electricity from renewables by 2030.
Gas is not the solution
Despite sky-high prices, 20% of EU electricity production still came from natural gas between March and September 2022, accounting for €82 billion in costs, according to the report.
Ember and E3G analysts warned against the harmful repercussions of continued investments in gas infrastructure, saying past EU policies are responsible for increasing gas dependency.
“Betting on gas as a bridge fuel and holding back on expanding renewable capacities are the main causes of Europe’s energy crisis,” the report says.
“The decision to pursue yet another diversification strategy and develop new gas infrastructure in the context of sustained high prices and tight LNG markets risks replicating past mistakes and will fail to bring relief from the current crisis,” it continues.
According to the report, the solution lies in the REPowerEU plan, proposed by the European Commission in May, with the aim of rapidly ending the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
“Governments need to support the clean energy ambition of REPowerEU, making it a core element of the energy price crisis response,” said Artur Patuleia, senior associate at E3G.
Valentina Romano, EurActiv.com
This article first appeared on EurActiv.com, an edie content partner
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