For the first time in its history in 2020, the use of renewable energy sources for generating electricity in the European Union overtook its use of fossil fuel with new projects coming online and a deliberate reduction of use of coal for power generation, showed a report.
In 2020, about 38 per cent of the electricity for the 27-member bloc was generated by renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power. This was shown in a report that was published by think-tanks Ember and Agora Energiewende which also showed that 37 per cent of the EU’s electricity was generated from coal and gas.
About 61 per cent of the electricity needs of Denmark ion 2020 was fulfilled from wind and solar power, which made it the top European renewable user compared to 35 per cent and 33 per cent for Ireland and Germany respectively.
Data showed that Slovakia and the Czech Republic were at the bottom of the list with renewables accounting for below 5 per cent of the total electricity requirements of the countries.
There was a 4 per cent drop in usage of electricity on the over all in the EU in 2020 because of the restrictions that were imposed on homes and businesses designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The effect of this drop was felt more by fossil fuel based power generators.
The report said that in 2020, there was a 20 per cent drop in coal-fired power generation which is half of the 2015 levels. “Coal generation fell in almost every country, continuing coal’s collapse that was well in place before COVID-19,” the report said.
In order to meet stringent pollution norms, coal-fired power plants are being phased out by many European countries. Some coal plants were also rendered unprofitable because of low electricity prices amid the pandemic lockdowns and because of the cheaper electricity from renewable sources.
“Renewables will keep rising, because we keep installing more and more. The jury’s out as to whether fossil fuels will rebound but if they do rebound it’s not expected to be by a lot,” Dave Jones, Ember’s senior electricity analyst said.
Some change is taking place within fossil fuel companies themselves.
The number of geologists, engineers and scientists at the oil giant BP has in recent years brought down to 100 compared to a peak number of more than 700 such employees even a few years ago. That change in the company is part of the shift in its business strategy – driven by climate change and implemented by CEO Bernard Looney last year. This move is also a part of the strategy of the company to slowly move away from oil and gas production towards renewable sources of energy within the next 10 years.
A new law is being drafted by the EU’s executive arm and which is set to be made public in June this year wherein penalties would be imposed on certain goods that are imported into the EU from countries that have weak pollution rules.
(Adapted from AlJazeera.com)