‘Falling like dominos’: Renewables records continue to topple across Europe

New analysis reveals that on May 24th over half of the continent’s power came from renewables, as UK’s coal-free run extends beyond 50 days

On a Sunday late last month, 55 per cent of Europe’s power was delivered by wind, solar, and hydroelectric sources.

That is the headline conclusion from a new update from the Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab, which confirms renewables records have toppled right across Europe in the past few weeks, with levels of clean power that were once widely regarded as incompatible with current grid architecture seamlessly integrated into the continent’s energy system.

The real time energy monitoring app, which is provided by Finnish smart tech specialist Wärtsilä, reveals that Germany hit 58 per cent renewable generation throughout May as a share of total electricity supply, while the UK averaged a 48 per cent renewables share.

On April 30th, Spain’s renewable generation reached a record 74 per cent share, an increase of 23 percentage points on the annual average that resulted in nuclear power output being dialled down to make room for peak renewable power generation.

Meanwhile, France saw a 31 per cent share for renewables in May – a result which lags behind its neighbours but is still almost 10 percentage points higher than May last year.

The run of records are the result of a combination of favourable weather conditions and the coronavirus crisis leading to a 10 per cent fall in energy demand across the continent on a year-on-year basis.

As a result the carbon intensity of Europe’s power supply fell more than 20 per cent compared to May 2019 with a third less coal generation.

Matti Rautkivi, director of strategy and business development at Wärtsilä Energy Group, said the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on the energy system had provided an invaluable insight into how power grids could remain robust and stable while consistently integrating record-breaking shares of renewable power.

“To achieve this level of renewables across Europe before Summer has even begun is incredible,” he said. “Records are falling like dominos and the impact this is having on national energy systems is showing us what we need to do to integrate extremely high levels of wind and solar for the long term.

“During the huge difficulties caused by COVID-19, we have been presented with a unique opportunity to learn how we can tackle the next big challenge – climate change. We must capitalise on this rare glimpse into the future and use it to build back a cleaner and more flexible energy system.”

The update follows new data from grid operators in the UK that confirmed the country has just completed its first month without using any coal power since the Industrial Revolution, with the current coal-free run now extending beyond 50 days.

Solar generation also set a new record in May, delivering 11.5 per cent of power, while the overall carbon intensity of the grid reached a record low of 143g of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour (CO2/kWh) of power for the month.

Source : Businessgreen.com

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