‘Records are falling like dominos’: Europe delivering record renewables generation

Wind farm in Kokkolantie

May acted as a record month for renewables across certain areas of Europe, with blustery and sunny conditions propelling levels of renewables supply to new heights. Data provided this week by the Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab shows that on May 24, 55% of the continent’s energy supply came from renewables such as wind solar and hydro.

The Lab claims that the share of renewables in Europe reached levels that aren’t expected for at least another decade.

Individual countries also boasted high renewables penetration. Germany hit 58% renewable generation throughout May, while the UK averaged 48%. On 30 April, renewables accounted for 74% of Spain’s electricity generation. In fact, the carbon intensity of Europe’s power supply fell by more than 20% in May compared to 2019, with coal generation a third less. Energy demand is also down 10% year-on-year, largely due to the impact of the coronavirus.

 Wärtsilä Energy Group’s director of strategy and business development Matti Rautkivi said: “To achieve this level of renewables across Europe before Summer has even begun is incredible! Records are falling like dominos and the impact this is having on national energy systems is showing us what we need to do to integrate extremely high levels of wind and solar for the long term.

“During the huge difficulties caused by COVID-19, we have been presented with a unique opportunity to learn how we can tackle the next big challenge – climate change. We must capitalise on this rare glimpse into the future and use it to build back a cleaner and more flexible energy system.”

Year to remember

Last year was a record year for renewables across the European Union (EU). A Study by think-tanks Agora Energiewende and Sandbag confirmed that renewables accounted for 34.6% of energy across the bloc in 2019 – up from just under one-third in 2018.

Wind power accounted for 13.4%, hydro delivered 10.8% with biomass at 6.2% and solar at 4.2%.

All signs point to this annual record being beaten. Alongside the Transition Lab’s data, energy market analyst EnAppSys, confirmed that February 2020 was a record month for wind output across Europe.

EnAppSys found that wind power delivered an average output of more than 85GW. The levels of electricity produced by windfarms were up 68% compared to February 2019 and monthly records for wind generation have been surpassed each month since November 2019.

The growth in demand for renewables across the European market outpaced growth in supply in 2019, according to statistics from the Association of Issuing Bodies (AIB). Corporate demand is spurring this trend. Renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) made by corporates in Europe totalled 8GW in 2019, up from 5.5GW in 2018.

Matt Mace

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