The EU now gets more than 30% of its electricity from renewable sources, according to a new report (pdf) published by think tanks Sandbag and Agora Energiewende, Here are five main takeaways from the report:
1. Renewables now produce more electricity than coal or natural gas
In 2017, wind, solar, and biomass combined to produce 20.9% of all electricity in the EU, compared to 20.6% for coal and 19.7% for natural gas 19.7%. (Hydro provided another 10.9% in 2017.) “This is incredible progress, considering just five years ago, coal generation was more than twice that of wind, solar and biomass,” the report says.
2. But growth in renewables is uneven
Germany and the UK alone accounted for 56% of the EU’s overall growth in renewables in the past three years, even though the two countries generate less than 30% of the bloc’s total electricity. They’re far outpacing other EU member states in the effort to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.
3. Electricity consumption rose by 0.7% in 2017
That marks the third consecutive year electricity consumption increased in the EU. One way to reduce emissions is to consume less. That means EU’s energy-efficiency measures aren’t cutting electricity use as much as they should, and electricity demand is expected to rise even further in the near future as more and more electric vehicles replace combustion-engine vehicles on the road.
4. CO2 emissions continued to grow in 2017
Carbon-dioxide emissions in the power sector didn’t change between 2016 and 2017, but overall CO2 emissions increased, due to rising industrial emissions, especially from steel production. Meanwhile, the increased contribution of wind and solar weren’t enough to make up for growing industrial emissions, especially as 2017 saw a decrease in nuclear power and low production from hydro (likely due to natural fluctuation).
5. Western Europe is phasing out coal, but Eastern Europe is sticking to it
The result is that Europe’s air quality is also divided across east and west, with countries in the east suffering because of coal use.
Read the full report from the Quartz.