By Arman Kazemi
June 25, 2015
Europe’s total renewable electricity generation was up 9 per cent in 2014 compared to 2011. This growth, according to a new report, resulted in one third of Europe’s electricity supply originating from renewable sources.
Released last week, Electricity in Europe 2014, an annual roundup of the European electricity market, draws a direct correlation between the continent’s rise in renewable electricity supply and its decrease in fossil fuel generation, which the report claims has dropped from 48.6 to 40.5 per cent of total generation
Of renewable generation, hydro accounts for 18.5 per cent while wind, solar and “other renewables” make up 14.4 per cent. Nuclear power has remained a stable at around 26.3 per cent of the electricity supply.
Electricity exchange, the trade of electrons between countries, has also grown, seeing a 16 per cent increase since 2010, corresponding with the spurt in renewable generation over roughly the same period.
Scandinavian countries typically showed the highest rates of total renewable generation, including Norway and Sweden with over 60 per cent renewable energy supply. These countries also tend to have the most overcapacity, while other countries experience shortages and often resort to fossil fuels to meet electricity demand.
“If you don’t connect, you need to spend twice as much,” according to Susanne Nies, Corporate Affairs Manager for the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity.
At 88.3 per cent, 88 per cent, and 83.6 per cent, respectively, Poland, Estonia and the Netherlands trail the pack in terms of their continued dependence on fossil fuel generation. Meanwhile Norway, Sweden, and France have each reduced their fossil-fuel generation to 5 per cent or less, largely due to nuclear power in the case of France (76.8 per cent) and hydropower in the case of Norway (95.9 per cent), and a mixture of the two for Sweden.
This is a fact that has as much to do with policy initiative as resource availability, according to Nies.
“A country like Poland will have a hard time to get out of coal-fired power generation soon as it has chosen to rely on this for its power,” she says in the report. But despite the dependency of some countries on carbon-intensive electricity, Nies believes the EU’s renewable energy target of 27 per cent by 2030 is easily achievable, which would mean a renewable electricity generation of 46 per cent.
“We should have no problem reaching that target. It’s a revolution that we’re seeing,” she says.