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Published on May 13th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Wind, Solar, & Natural Gas Up In Europe — Coal & Nuclear Down

May 13th, 2013 by  

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.

new power generation capacity eu

Image Credit: EPIA. Click to enlarge.

new power generation 2012

Image Credit: EPIA. Click to enlarge.

Naturally, more capacity means more electricity production, and less capacity means less electricity production.

balance of power eu

Image Credit: EPIA. Click to enlarge.

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.) 

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species). He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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