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EU Cutting €11 Billion In Gas Costs Via Record Growth In Wind & Solar

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sent one very clear message to Europe — ween yourself off dependence on Russian fossil gas, and gas in general. That led to record growth in wind and solar power this year, and a new analysis from E3G and Ember finds that the EU’s increase in wind and solar power deployment this year has led to €11 billion in gas cost savings.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, 25% of Europe’s electricity has been generated by solar and wind. That said, fossil gas still accounted for 20% of the EU’s electricity in this time, and came to a total cost of €82 million. There’s still a lot of room for cutting fossil gas use and costs. “Wind and solar are already helping European citizens,” said Dr. Chris Rosslowe, senior analyst at Ember. “But the future potential is even greater.” Indeed — much greater.

“Wind and solar generated a record 24% of EU electricity from March to September this year (345 terawatt hours), growing a record 39 TWh year-on-year, up from 21% of EU electricity in the same period last year. Nineteen EU countries achieved a wind and solar record, including France (14%), Italy (20%), Poland (17%) and Spain (35%). The record increase in wind and solar compared to last year avoided the need for eight billion cubic metres of additional fossil gas at a cost of €11 billion,” Ember writes.

“The study shows that past policy choices that increased the EU’s dependency on gas and held back the EU’s renewable and energy efficiency ambition are the main drivers of Europe’s record-high inflation now. Nevertheless, existing wind and solar capacity avoided considerable high-priced gas imports and thus prevented an even higher inflation and deeper crisis.” Insightful analysis — sharp, maybe not popular in some circles, but important. The narrative of solar and wind cutting costs has long been strong in the EU, but it could have been stronger and it’s time to emphasize that.

“With tight LNG markets sustaining high gas costs for the next years, governments need to support the clean energy ambition of RePowerEU, making it a core element of the energy price crisis response,” Artur Patuleia, Senior Associate focusing on energy system transitions at E3G, says.

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