Renewables are cutting back the EU’s gas demand

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Geniusksy.

By Anders Lorenzen

A new report has found that continued investments in renewables have helped the European Union (EU), to cut its reliance on gas imports drastically.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine on 24th February this year, the EU has avoided buying €99 billion of gas imports compared to the same period last year. The research outlines that wind and solar capacity growth has been a key contributing factor.

The report published by the think tanks E3G and Ember, states that solar and wind have produced a quarter of EU electricity since March 2022.  Nineteen (of the 27) EU member states have achieved record wind and solar generation. 

In addition, the increase in renewables also helped mitigate the reduction in hydroelectricity generation caused by this summer’s waves of droughts and heatwaves, as well as the decline in French nuclear production caused by maintenance, and a series of failures in the French nuclear fleet.

Wind and solar help European citizens

Chriss Rosslowe who is a senior analyst at Ember said about the report: “Wind and solar are already helping European citizens. But the future potential is even greater.”

Poland, often known more for its reliance on and embrace of fossil fuels than renewables, is the country with the most significant percentage of year-on-year increase. Spain registered the greatest absolute generation increase.

It also found that the war in Ukraine as well as the increase in the price of fossil fuels had actually accelerated the EU’s energy transition. 

The report also outlines that individual EU member states are more ambitious than the block itself and makes a plausible case for strengthening the EU’s renewables targets. Nineteen European governments have increased their decarbonisation strategy with some planning to generate close to all electricity from renewables by 2030.

Artur Patuleia, senior associate at E3G said: “Governments need to support the clean energy ambition of REPowerEU, making it a core element of the energy price crisis response.”

However, at 20%, the share of electricity generated from natural gas is still high. Between March and September this year, €82 billion was spent on gas imports. The report warned that continuing investment in gas infrastructure, which it called harmful, explaining that looking on gas as a bridge fuel is holding back expansion in renewables.

The analysis praised the EU’s REPowerEU plan which aims to end the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

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