Renewables have provided a record-breaking 40% of electricity to the European Union’s electricity mix as coal’s share fell, according to the latest report from the European Commission.
Renewable energy in Europe has now expanded by 38TW-h compared to the first quarter of 2019, with authors of the report saying renewable energy also presented the most resilient means of energy production due to the fact it was the least impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
The European Commission added that it believes the EU’s carbon dioxide emission footprint has shrunk by 20% due to the added renewables in its energy supply chain and overall drop in electricity consumption.
The rise of renewable power in the energy mix also caused wholesale prices to drop, with the authors of the report stating that “as a result of falling demand and rising renewable generation, day-ahead electricity prices plunged across the continent, bottoming out in April at all-time lows.”
“Thanks to recovering hydro output and record high wind generation, renewable energy sources had a very successful quarter, expanding by 38TWh year-on-year and reaching a 40% share in the power mix, their highest quarterly figure to date.”
“Not even nuclear energy was spared by the weakening demand and rock-bottom wholesale prices,” they added. “Reactors in Sweden, France and other countries had to be aken offline or significantly ramped down. All in all, renewable generators were the least affected by the crisis and came out of it relatively unscathed,” they said.
The report notes that fossil fuel’s share of the energy mix shrunk in the first quarter of 2020 from 38% in Q1 2019, to 33% in Q1 2020. “As the decarbonisation drive continued and even intensified in April and May, the power sector seems to be on track for another double-digit decrease in CO2 emissions in 2020, after a 15% annual drop in 2019,” they said.
Thermal coal was hit particularly hard, with the report noting a 47% drop year-on-year, with an import bill totalling 1 billion euros, down 57% from the first quarter of 2019.
Authors noted that the EU’s overall energy consumption dropped by 3% in the first three months of 2020, with demand reaching a peak in April with economic recoveries and the re-opening of a number of businesses.
The report also mentions a noticeable uptick in the number of electric vehicles being registered within the European Union. “New ECV registrations in the EU27 doubled in Q1 2020 year-on-year to 167,000 vehicles,” which has driven EV’s market share to a record-setting 6.8%. The rise in registrations has been met with an additional 25,000 public charging points for owners of electric vehicles.