European Energy Growing Greener

Published on July 7th, 2010 | by

July 7th, 2010 by

Europe’s total electricity consumption in 2009 saw almost 20 percent come from renewable energy sources.

The Renewable Energy Snapshots report published Monday by the European Commission’s Join Research Centre showed that about 19.9% of Europe’s total electricity consumption came from renewable sources, which equals some 608 TWh out of a total of 3042 TWh required by Europe.

Additionally, 62% of new electricity generation capacity installed in the European Union was renewable energy sources including wind energy, solar and others. For the second year running wind energy accounted for the largest share of the new generating capacity.

Looking at all the new capacity constructed throughout the EU27 over 2009, 37.1% was wind power, 21% photovoltaics (PV), 2.1% biomass, 1.4% hydro and 0.4% concentrated solar power, whereas the rest were gas fired power stations (24%), coal fired power stations (8.7%), oil (2.1%), waste incineration (1.6%) and nuclear (1.6%).

According to the report, if current growth rates are maintained by 2020 up to 1400 TWh of electricity will be generated by renewable sources.

A summary of the 2010 reports findings is below, focusing on five separate renewable generating sources.

Wind energy: with more than 74 GW of total installed capacity in 2009, it has already exceeded the 2010 white paper target of 40 GW by more than 80%. The European Wind Association’s new target aims for 230 GW of installed capacity (40 GW offshore) by 2020, capable of providing about 20% of Europe’s electricity demand.

Biomass: if current growth continues, electricity output from biomass could double from 2008 to 2010 (from 108 TWh to 200 TWh). However, other energy uses such as heat and transport fuels compete for this particular source, which could potentially hinder the development of bioelectricity. Being storable for use on demand increases its importance as a source of electricity.

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP): installed capacity is still relatively small in Europe: 0.430 GW in May 2010, about 0.5% of the total, but is steadily increasing. An estimated 30 GW could be installed by 2020 if the European Solar Industry Initiative ESII is realised. Most CSP projects currently under construction are located in Spain.

Solar Photovoltaic: since 2003, the total installed capacity has doubled each year. In 2009 it reached 16 GW, which represents 2% of the overall capacity. The growth will continue, as for 2010, installations of up to 10 GW are expected. Solar photovoltaic has also exceeded the capacity predictions formulated by in the EU white paper on renewable sources of energy.

Other sources of power: technologies such as geothermal, tidal and wave power are still at the R&D stage, so they have not yet been included in the Renewable Energy Snapshots. Yet, they are likely to be introduced to the market within the next decade. As far as hydro generation is concerned, no major increase is expected, as most of the resources are already in use. However, pumped hydro will play an increasingly important role as in a storage capacity for the other renewable energy resources.

Source: European Commission Joint Research Centre

Image Source: Colin Gregory Palmer

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