The Daily Telegraph

Record rise in green energy across the EU

- By Emma Gatten Environmen­t editor

RENEWABLE energy overtook fossil fuel use in the first six months of 2020 for the first time across the European Union, as lockdown slowed demand.

Wind, solar, hydro and bioenergy generated 40 per cent of member states’ electricit­y, compared with 34 per cent from fossil fuels, according to data from environmen­tal think tank Ember.

The UK passed the same milestone in April and by June had gone a recordbrea­king two months without having to generate coal power.

The steep decline in fossil fuel use across Europe was helped by a 7 per cent drop in electricit­y demand because of the lockdown, as business and leisure activity came to a halt.

It also reflects a rise in renewable infrastruc­ture as the region tries to tackle climate change, and could accelerate the end of coal use in Europe.

The amount of renewable energy generated in the period rose by 11 per cent largely because of new wind and solar power facilities but also because of more favourable weather conditions.

“This marks a symbolic moment in the transition of Europe’s electricit­y sector. Renewables generated more electricit­y than fossil fuels, driven by wind and solar [and] replacing coal,” said Dave Jones, senior electricit­y analyst at Ember.

“That’s fast progress from just nine years ago when fossil fuels generated twice as much as renewables.” But, he added: “The change is not equal: Poland is now Europe’s biggest coal generator and Czechia is the third largest.”

Poland generated more coal-fired power than Germany for the first time, and almost as much as the rest of the bloc put together, aside from the Czech Republic.

In January, Germany outlined plans to end coal power by 2038. Poland, home to Europe’s largest coal plant, has yet to set a date for its own phase-out.

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