Business, Environmental, Europe

Europe: Renewables overtake fossil fuels in first half of 2019

For the second consecutive year, renewables produced more power than fossil fuels in the first and second quarters of 2019 in Europe.

That’s the standout highlight of a new report on the European power market from energy data analyst EnAppSys. The report showed that renewable projects generated 245.8 TWh of electricity in the three months to June 30 – 21.3% more than the combined 202.7 TWh produced from gas, coal lignite, oil and peat during the same period.

This repeats the pattern seen in 2018, which saw renewables produce 288.4 TWh and 252.8 TWh in Q1 and Q2 respectively, whilst fossil fuels generated 258.9 TWh and 224.8 TWh.

Hydro was the second largest player, producing 17.5% of the continent’s power mix during Q2 2019.

EnAppSys said this was part of a trend that has brought increased levels of stability to the European power market.

“The state of the power fuel mix across Europe has largely stabilised, with levels of renewables no longer seeing large increases and the balance between coal and gas largely staying static,” said Jean-Paul Harreman, director of EnAppSys BV. “This means that the share of generation from fossil fuels, renewables and nuclear have largely remained static since 2017, with renewables providing more than fossil fuels in the first half of the year and this trend reversing in the second half of the year.”

Nuclear plants were the dominant player in Europe’s power mix during Q2 2019, generating 28.2% of total electricity. Hydro produced 17.5%, gas 17.0%, coal/lignite plants 14.7%, wind 11.5%, solar 6.5% and biomass projects 3.4%. The remainder was made up of oil 0.6%, waste 0.5% and peat 0.1%.

“Although many countries are claiming they are moving towards a renewable future, a large share of European electricity continues to be generated from dirty fuel sources. Coal and lignite plants continued to produce a high share of total generation in the second quarter (92.1TWh), which is only 22% down on Q2 2016 levels,” Harreman said. “In the short term, this trend could continue as many operators are finding it difficult to secure finance and subsidy support for renewable projects. There is also the challenge of switching from coal to gas in regions in which domestic gas supplies and gas infrastructure is low.”

Hydro assets provided the main source of renewable electricity generation during the quarter, producing 109.2 TWh, while wind farms generated 71.6 TWh – up 25% on Q2 2018 levels.  

Harreman said: “The largest share of renewable generation came from hydro plants, which are set to remain the dominant renewable fuel source in Europe for the foreseeable future. Solar farms produced 40.5 TWh, well below the record high in Q2 2018 as generation from this energy source started to flatten out across European markets.”

This article was first published on Smart Energy International and was reprinted with permission.