Solar energy accounted for 10% of the European Union’s (EU) electricity during the peak summer months of June and July this year, energy think tank Ember has revealed.
Solar power generation stood at 39 TWh in June-July 2021, compared to 28 TWh in the same period in 2018. Solar generation in the EU increased by 5.1 TWh between June-July 2020 and 2021, a 64% surge year-over-year compared to 2020 when 3.1 TWh of solar was generated.
Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and Spain saw record solar generation during the year’s summer peak. Netherlands and Spain have doubled their solar share since June-July 2018. Estonia and Poland have gone from near-zero solar in 2018 to 10% and 5% respectively in June-July 2021.
For the first time, solar generation overtook coal power in Hungary in summer 2021. Hungary has quadrupled its solar share from 3% of electricity in June-July 2018 to 12% this summer. In comparison, Hungary’s coal power fell from 17% in June-July 2018 to just 10%.
Seven EU countries generated more than 10% of their electricity from solar in June-July 2021. Leading the way was The Netherlands, which generated 17% of its electricity from solar. In comparison, Germany generated 17% of its electricity from solar and Spain 16%. Greece and Italy both generated 13% of their electricity from solar.
Ember also found that despite recent gains, the EU’s electricity generation from solar remains less than coal power plants, which generated 58 TWh or 14% of the EU’s electricity even during the summer peak.
The EU has added 14 TWh of solar energy every year on average in the last two years. However, according to the European Commission, annual growth in the next decade must double to 30 TWh to meet the EU’s new 2030 climate targets.
Solar electricity is cheaper than existing fossil fuel plants across major markets, including Germany, the UK, Italy, France, and Spain.
According to the analysis, the global average levelized cost of electricity for utility-scale solar has reduced from $381/MWh in 2010 to $57/MWh in 2020.
Earlier this year, Ember and Agora Energiwendehad released a report that revealed renewables overtook fossil fuels as the EU’s primary source of electricity due to the rapid growth of clean energy and the decline of coal power.
In November 2020, the European Commission unveiled a strategy to help achieve the EU’s climate neutrality target by 2050. The plan suggested increasing Europe’s offshore wind capacity up to 60 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050, from its existing capacity of 12 GW.
Arjun Joshi is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, he worked as a technical writer for enterprise resource software companies based in India and abroad. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Psychology, and Optional English from Garden City University, Bangalore. More articles from Arjun Joshi.