Wind and solar break EU records as fossil fuel generation plummets

New data released by the energy think tank Ember shows that in May, for the first time on record, the EU saw more electricity generated by wind and solar than fossil fuels.

Almost a third – 31% – was generated from the former, while fossil fuels generated a record low of 27%.

white wind turbine

Ember’s Europe lead Sarah Brown said: ‘Europe’s electricity transition has hit hyperdrive, clean power keeps smashing record after record.’

The growth in the two renewables can be attributed to an increase in the deployment of solar and the fact that May was a good month in terms of wind, combined with a low demand for electricity generally.

There were other records being broken in May too. Coal contributed only 10%, less than it did at its previous lowest during lockdown. This allowed solar generation (setting another record with 14%) to overtake coal for the first time. 

Ember point out that this May should not be taken as exceptional because the trend has been heading in this direction with some rapidity. In the first five months of this year coal generation was 20% lower than during the same period last year, gas 15% down. During the same period solar has grown 10% and wind 5%.

Sarah Brown, again: ‘Solar and wind are helping to cut fossil fuel use. Not only did coal power set new lows, but gas is also tumbling. The EU is on track for a huge collapse in fossil power this year, as wind and solar emerge as the backbone of the future electricity system.’

Some countries are doing more than others to tip the balance between renewables and fossil fuel. Greece, for example has seen a huge swing towards solar and wind over the last five years. In 2018 coal and gas had a 78% share of electricity generation, it now has 43.5%. Solar and wind, on the other hand, has leapt from 17% to 51%


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