Europe’s New Energy Reality
Updated: May 14, 2020
Energy was always considered strategic liability for the European Union due to its massive reliance on energy imports, particularly of oil and gas, In fact, in 2015 more than half (54%) of gross domestic energy consumption in the EU-28 came from imports mostly from Russia. But recently after successful exploitation of renewable energy sources in many member states, energy has become the European Union’s strategic advantage over other parts of the world. Many economies of European Union definitely appear to be the biggest winner in the new energy reality.
Recently, two of the biggest economies in Europe have hit new highs for clean energy development.
The UK’s electrical grid has not consumed any coal for about 1,000 hours so far this year. The rate at which the UK is reaching such figures clearly shows how quickly UK is moving with energy transition. In 2016 and 2017, UK could only control burning coal for the full year for 210 hours and 624 hours, respectively.
Following two reasons could be responsible for such incredible shift:
A carbon tax on coal has made cleaner natural gas more attractive.
Subsidies for solar and wind power have ensured wider adoption in their energy mix.
Germany’s case is little bit different than UK. Although Germany began investing and pushing for renewable energy development in the country much earlier than the UK, but its gains are not that impressive; the reason could be the influential coal lobby in Germany. Due to exponential decline in the costs of renewable energy technologies, finally change could be seen on the ground in Germany. In 2018 so far, coal generated about 35.1% of the country’s electricity. Comparing to coal, renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and biomass, generated about 36.5%. At the half-year mark, it’s the first time in Germany’s history that renewables sources have generated more electricity than coal. The pace of change is expected to accelerate in the coming years. The European Union is tightening its emissions-trading scheme, which is going to raise the price of carbon. Large producers of carbon dioxide are being incentivized to move away from fossil fuels. As well, the cost of energy storage is coming down, allowing countries to add more intermittent solar and wind power.
Such positive results and rapidly declining renewable costs have made it easier for the EU to set even more ambitious clean-energy goals. Recently, the European Union’s member nations have agreed that each country must get 32% of all its energy from renewable sources by 2030. In nutshell, Europe looks best poised to lead the Clean Energy Revolution.