Following up on the report I just published regarding EPIA’s 2012–2017 European and global solar PV report, below are some really interesting charts I wanted to highlight. Basically, they show that solar PV, wind power, and natural gas capacity has grown substantially in the EU while coal, nuclear, and oil capacity has fallen.
Naturally, more capacity means more electricity production, and less capacity means less electricity production.
In other words, despite what some may have you think, increasing of solar and wind power in the EU has not been leading to a surge in coal power capacity due to the nuclear phaseouts taking place in several countries. Rather, coal power capacity has also declined. The only fossil fuel that saw an increase in capacity in 2012 was natural gas.
If you look at 2011 statistics, you can see that coal power capacity also increased (along with solar, wind, and natural gas) as nuclear power capacity dropped. However, with such power plants taking a long time to permit, build, and connect to the grid, this was really due to years of work preceding Fukushima and the strong nuclear phaseout plans that resulted from that.
Furthermore, the same trend has occurred in the US — wind, solar, and natural gas have been increasing; coal and nuclear power have been decreasing.
Compared to 2011, a shift has also occurred within the top three. More wind power came online in 2012 than in 2011, while the net increase in natural gas capacity was much smaller. (Notably, I noted back in December 2011 that wind power was pricing natural gas out of the market in Germany. I imagine the same thing was happening in other countries.)