Europeans Got More Electricity From Renewable Energy Than Fossil Fuels Last Year For First Time Ever
The fight for an eco-friendly future reached a new milestone last year, as for the first time Europeans got more of their electricity from renewable energy sources than from fossil fuels.
An annual report tracking power use in the European Union has revealed that renewables delivered 38% of the total electricity in 2020, just about squeaking ahead of the 37% generated by fossil fuels.
European emissions from electricity have been falling at record rates over the past five years, becoming almost 30% cleaner since 2015. The changes is largely the result of the growing capacity of solar and wind power, both of which have almost doubled in that time to account for almost one-fifth of total electricity production. Meanwhile coal power has dropped by one-fifth, and now accounts for a record low 13% of electricity produced in Europe.
In a statement following the release of the Ember and Agora Energiewende report, lead author Dave Jones said:
Rapid growth in wind and solar has forced coal into decline, but this is just the beginning.
Europe is relying on wind and solar to ensure not only coal is phased out by 2030, but also to phase out gas generation, replace closing nuclear power plants, and to meet rising electricity demand from electric cars, heat pumps and electrolysers.
Recent years have seen global shift away from fossil fuels amid growing awareness of the need for widespread environmental reform to combat the growing impact of climate change. The United States has also seen renewable energy overtake coal in recent years, with the US Energy Information Administration last year revealing renewable energy sources delivered more power than coal in the country for the first time since 1885.
The report also confirmed that 2020 saw the global demand for electricity take a sharp fall, with European total electricity consumption falling by 4%. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic was to blame for this fall, although Covid-19 is not thought to have affected the trend towards renewable energy sources.
The news comes as EU leaders last month agreed a series of new climate targets, including a commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% from the levels they were at in 1990 by 2030. The new 2030 Climate Target Plan came as the UK warned in December that the world was still not doing enough to reach the target set out by the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
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