Solar and wind power have produced a quarter of the EU’s electricity since March 2022, avoiding 70 billion cubic meters of gas imports, according to a new study by think tanks E3G and Ember.
In turn, this also helped to mitigate the reduction in hydroelectric production caused by droughts and a drop in nuclear production caused by maintenance and a series of breakdowns of the French nuclear fleet.
“Wind and solar are already helping European citizens,” said Chris Rosslowe, principal analyst at Ember. “But the future potential is even greater,” he added.
Record deployment of renewable energies
Since March, 19 EU member states have recorded record wind and solar power generation, according to the study. Among them, Poland is the country with the largest percentage of year-on-year increase (+48.5% compared to 2021), while Spain recorded the largest absolute increase in production. .
A recent study by Ember and the Center for Clean Air and Energy Research (CREA) have confirmed that the war in Ukraine and the price of fossil fuels have accelerated the EU’s energy transition, with EU member states acknowledging the role of renewables for energy security and announcing significant increases in their deployment.
“The EU has accelerated the energy transition, with governments taking the reduction of expensive fossil fuels seriously,” said Pawel Czyzak, senior energy and climate data analyst at Ember.
“There is a consensus that the faster increase in wind and solar power can help the EU avoid multiple crises,” he added.
The analysis shows how far more ambitious EU countries’ latest plans are, proposing a 31% cut in electricity generation from fossil fuels by 2030 compared to their 2019 strategies.
Over the past two years, 19 European governments have increased the ambition of their decarbonisation strategies, with some planning to generate almost all electricity from renewables by 2030.
Gas is not the solution
Despite exorbitant prices, 20% of EU electricity generation still came from natural gas between March and September 2022, representing €82 billion in costs, according to the report.
Analysts at Ember and E3G have warned of the damaging repercussions of continued investment in gas infrastructure, saying past EU policies are responsible for increasing gas dependency.
“Betting on gas as a transition fuel and curbing the expansion of renewable capacities are the main causes of the energy crisis in Europe,” the report states.
“The decision to pursue a new diversification strategy and develop new gas infrastructure in a context of high prices and tight LNG markets risks repeating the mistakes of the past and will not succeed in relieving the current crisis”, he 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 must support REPowerEU’s clean energy ambition, making it a central part of the response to the energy price crisis,” said Artur Patuleia, Senior Partner at E3G.
Valentina Romano, EurActiv.com
This article first appeared on EurActiv.com, an edie content partner
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