Renewables beat fossil fuels. A half-yearly analysis of Europe’s electricity transition

For the last seven years, Ember has published a bi-annual report on the European power sector. Ember is an independent climate think-tank focused on accelerating the global electricity transition.

Main findings:

  • Renewable electricity generation exceeded fossil fuel generation, for the first time ever. In the first half of 2020, renewables – wind, solar, hydro and bioenergy – generated 40% of the EU-27’s electricity, whereas fossil fuels generated 34%.
  • Renewables rose by 11%. This was driven by new wind and solar installations and favourable conditions during a mild and windy start to the year. Wind and solar alone reached a record of 21% of Europe’s total electricity generation, and reached even higher penetration in Denmark (64%), Ireland (49%) and Germany (42%). Although electricity grids have coped well with record wind and solar penetrations, negative prices are highlighting inflexibilities in supply and demand that need to be addressed.
  • Fossil fuels fell by 18%. Fossil was squeezed on two fronts: by rising renewable generation and a 7% fall in electricity demand due to COVID-19. Coal took the brunt, falling by 32%. Of that, hard coal generation fell 34% and lignite fell 29%. Even gas generation registered a fall of 6%, falling in eleven countries. As a result, EU-27 power sector CO2 emissions fell by about 23%.
  • Germany’s coal generation collapses below Poland’s for the first time. Poland now generates more coal-fired electricity than Germany, and also as much as the remaining 25 EU countries combined. Whilst most other countries, including Germany, have a plan to phase out coal, Poland doesn’t yet have a plan.

Find the full report here