Solar was absolutely insignificant as a source of electricity in 2005, but by 2015 it produced 108 TWh. Photo: © Shutterstock – Sonpichit SalangsinG

Renewables are rolling out rapidly

Between 2005 and 2015 wind power grew fourfold and solar by a factor of 72 in the EU. But this growth is very unevenly spread in the EU and in wider Europe.

An average Dane got 2,496 kWh of electricity from wind power in 2015. A Russian only got 1 kWh. Differences in solar are just as striking: Germany produced 469 kWh per inhabitant, Switzerland only 13, and Russia and Ireland zero, zilch and nada.

Both the fast growth and the uneven distribution can be seen in the tables in the factsheet “Development of renewable energy in Europe 1990–2015”.  

Renewable energy includes hydro power, geothermal power and heat, wave energy, solar heating and biopower/heat. Hydro is big, but was mostly built a long time ago. Biomass is also important and a growing source of energy, for heat, power and vehicle fuel, ranging from mixed waste incineration (bad) to bark and wood shavings (good), so system boundaries are confusing and aggregated data are hard to understand and evaluate. Geopower and solar heating are not big in Europe and not moving fast.

Wind and solar are the result of a climate-driven, and anti-nuclear, energy policy and a good indicator of the seriousness of climate policy.

Solar was absolutely insignificant as a source of electricity in 2005, but by 2015 it produced 108 TWh. This is about five times as much as Germany’s biggest fossil power plant, Jänschwalde, used to produce, so clearly solar can replace a lot of fossil power, and is doing so.

Wind is still much bigger and produced 302 TWh in Europe in 2015, equivalent to about 40 nuclear power reactors.

Renewables are no longer seen as alternative. They are the new default power source, eating away at fossils and nuclear.

Fredrik Lundberg

Link to factsheet: http://airclim.org/publications/development-renewable-energy-europe-1990...

Table: Renewables, consumption in Terawatt-hours   

 

 

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