Solar Helps EU Avoid €29bn In Gas Imports Over 4 Months
…Share of solar in EU’s electricity generation up from 9.4% from May to August last year to 12.2% in same period this year
The European Union’s (EU) record electricity generation of 12.2% from solar from May to August helped the bloc avoid €29 billion in fossil gas imports, according to a report by energy think tank Ember on Thursday.
The report, analyzing monthly electricity generation data for the EU during the peak summer months from May to August, revealed that solar power generation stood at 99.4 terawatt-hours, up by 28% from 77.7 terawatt-hours in the same period last year.
The share of solar in electricity generation has grown to 12.2% from May to August this year compared to 9.4% during the same period last year, exceeding the 11.7% share of wind and the 11% share in hydro. The share of coal, however, was 16.5%.
Solar share records were broken in 18 out of the 27 EU countries from May to August this year, with the Netherlands ranking the highest in the share of solar-powered generation at 22.7%, followed by Germany and Spain at 19.3% and 16.7%, respectively.
Greece and Italy also showed sizable electricity generation from solar at 15.3% and 15%, respectively, while Hungary generated 14.7% of electricity from solar. Belgium and Denmark broke the 10% solar generation threshold at 12.8% and 12.9%, respectively over the same period.
The largest increase in solar power generation since 2018 was seen in Poland, with a 26-fold rise followed by five-fold increases in Finland and Hungary, according to the report.
Solar record comes amid mounting gas crisis in EU
Ember said its analysts calculated that the EU would have had to purchase an extra 20 billion cubic meters of gas this summer without solar-powered generation, corresponding to €29 billion based on the daily gas prices for May to August.
The year-on-year growth in solar power of 22 terawatt-hours alone delivered savings of 4 billion cubic meters, equating to €6 billion.
The EU’s record power generation from solar comes amid the mounting gas crisis in the EU with record-breaking prices and supply issues, as the bloc tries to reduce Russian gas imports while Russia decreases gas flow to the EU.
According to the report, the European benchmark TTF day ahead price traded at an all-time high of €313 per megawatt-hour on Aug. 29 and recorded an average of €148 per megawatt-hour from May to August.
This represents a surge of €110 per megawatt-hour compared with the same period in 2021 when the price was €38 per megawatt-hour.
“As Europe is rocked by the gas crisis, solar energy brings some much-needed relief. Investments in solar capacity have paid off. Every terawatt hour of solar electricity helped reduce our gas consumption, saving billions for European citizens,” Pawel Czyzak, Ember’s senior analyst, said.
Faster solar capacity deployment needed
The analysis found that solar power growth in the EU is largely thanks to the 15% year-on-year increase in installed solar capacity from 104 gigawatts in 2018 to 162 gigawatts in 2021.
According to Ember, this rate of deployment needs to continue for solar capacity and generation to match in achieving the necessary renewable energy goal by 2030, although the recent analysis shows that the projections for the upcoming years fall short of this and will only meet less than half what is needed.
“It is clear that we need as much solar power as we can get. The EU Parliament has the perfect opportunity to give it to us by adopting the 45% renewable energy target and putting Europe on a pathway towards 600 gigawatts of solar capacity or more by 2030,” Czyzak said.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya