Renewables overtake coal in Europe for first time

A combination of solar, wind and biomass has led to more electricity in Europe being generated by renewables than coal for the time, according to a new report.

The report by the Sandbag think tank said that the amount of power generated from renewable sources rose by 12% last year to 679TWh.

Five years ago, coal was being used to generate five times as much electricity as renewables, the climate change policy charity said.

Germany and the UK accounted for 56% of the growth in renewables over the past three years.

Power consumption

The UK was the only country in the European Union (EU’s) to report a fall in the amount of electricity it consumed last year, down by 2%. In contrast, the EU’s total electricity consumption rose by 0.7% last year.

Dave Jones, Energy Analyst at Sandbag, said: “With electricity consumption rising for the third year, countries need to reassess their efforts on energy efficiency.”

Demand for electricity has dropped by 9% over the past seven years, the largest drop for any European country, with France posting a 5% fall and Germany’s consumption down 2%.

Phasing out coal

Jones said: “We forecast Europe’s 258 operational coal plants last year emitted 38% of all EU Emissions Trading Scheme emissions, or 15% of total EU greenhouse gases.

“In 2017, Netherlands, Italy and Portugal added their names to the list of countries to phase-out coal, which is great progress.

“We need a fast and complete coal phase-out in Europe: the thought of charging electric cars in the 2030’s with coal just doesn’t compute.”

> Download the report