Renewable Electricity Replaces Natural Gas In Europe

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Originally published on Renewables International.
By Craig Morris

In April, Germany’s Öko-Institut reviewed the situation in Europe’s power sector and found that, as renewable electricity grows, coal power largely remains untouched. Electricity from natural gas is being offset.

Renewable electricity is up by more than a third within the EU from 2010 to 2015, having risen by 244 TWh. In return, the coal power has remained relatively stable since 2010 at 300 TWh (lignite) and 500 TWh (hard coal). But electricity from natural gas is down by 283 TWh in those years.

Essentially, Europe has transitioned from natural gas to renewables.


The study published last month shows that Germany accounts for nearly half of the EU’s electricity from lignite, and a focus on the UK, Germany, and Poland would cover more than half of power from hard coal.

The main challenge for natural gas in the power sector, the authors write, is price; the fuel simply remains uncompetitive at the current low carbon prices – even though natural gas turbines provide the flexibility that wind and solar power will eventually need as a backup.

While production of wind power more than doubled from 2010 to 2015 in Europe from 149 TWh to 307 TWh, solar power production more than quadrupled from 23 to 101 TWh. Germany was by far the largest producer of renewable power at 193 TWh, with Italy, Spain, Sweden, and France (in that order) coming in around 100 TWh.

Reprinted with permission.

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