Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Renewable sources accounted for 2/3 of new electricity generation capacity in Europe in 2009

A total of 27.5 GW of new power capacity was constructed in the EU in 2009. Out of this, 10.2 GW (38%) was wind power; 6.6 GW (24%) gas fired power stations; 5.8 GW (21%) PV; 2.4 GW (8.7%) coal fired power stations; 580 MW (2.1%) biomass, 570 MW (2.1%) oil; 440 MW (1.6%) waste, 440 MW (1.6%) nuclear, 390 MW (1.4%) hydro and 120 MW (0.4%) CSP.

For the second year in a row, wind energy is the leading electricity generation technology in Europe and the renewable share of new power installations was 62% in 2009.

Renewable Energies are a very dynamic field with high growth rates and therefore it is of great importance to base decisions on the latest information available as otherwise important development trends might be missed. For certain renewable energy technologies the development of effective policy measures is not yet possible due to the lack of robust, consistent and up to date data.

These Renewable Energy Snapshots are based on various data providers including grey data sources and tries to give an overview about the latest developments and trends in the different technologies.

The Renewable Energy Snapshots monitor the development of renewable electricity generation, and whether the 2020 targets can be reached.

For electricity generation from Hydro Power (2009: 351 TWh), no major increase is expected as most large hydro resources are already in use today. In addition, it is not clear if the same resources will still be available on a continuous base in the future if extreme weather conditions become more frequent and additional water resource needs might arise. Small Hydro is an option, but was not investigated in this report. However, pumped Hydro will play an increasingly important role as storage capacity for the other Renewable Energy Resources.

Additional renewable electricity generation technologies include geothermal, tidal and wave power. These technologies are in a research and development phase and no major market penetration is happening yet. Therefore, they are not yet included in this Snapshots, but it is expected that their market introduction will take place within the next decade.

It is expected that if the current growth of electricity generation from biomass continues, bioelectricity generation could be around 200 TWh in 2020 up from 108 TWh in 2008. An uncertainty in this estimation is clearly the competitive use of biomass for other energy uses like heat and transport fuels. To what effect this will change the development of bioelectricity is not yet clear. Bioelectricity generation, especially via biogas or CHP has the big advantage that biomass is storable and the
electricity can be generated on demand. This variable dispatchability is extremely important for a renewable energy supply and increases the value significantly.
In Europe, installed capacity from Concentrated Solar Power is still small today (430 MW in May 2010), but is steadily accelerating. According to the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association (ESTELA) 30 GW of CSP capacity could be installed in Europe generating around 100 TWh of electricity in 2020.

In Europe Solar Photovoltaic Electricity Generation has again increased its cumulative installed capacity by more than 50% to 16 GW in 2009 and for 2010 installations of up to 10 GW are expected. This would result in a capacity almost 9 times as high as was foreseen in the White Paper as the Target for 2010. The European Photovoltaic Industry Association published their ambitious vision plan for
2020 last year. The new target calls for up to 12% of the European electricity generated with solar photovoltaic electricity generation, or 380 to 420 TWh. The necessary growth rate would be 36% annually, which is much lower than what the industry has seen in the last 8 years. From an industry point of view the target is ambitious, but achievable, however it will need accompanying measures to ensure that the electricity grid will be able to absorb and distribute the generated solar electricity. This is especially important, because 12% of total electricity from solar photovoltaics translates to a cumulative installed PV capacity of 350 GW or close to 60% of the current total European thermal electricity generation capacity (590 GW in 2008) or more than 40% of the current total European electricity generation capacity (800 GW in 2008). Therefore, efficient transmission and storage
systems, as well as modern supply and demand management, have to be available to fulfil this vision.

Wind energy is already the number one in newly installed capacities in Europe. With more than 74 GW of cumulative installed capacity in 2009, it exceeded the White Paper target of 40 GW by more than 80%. The new target of the European Wind Association is aiming at 230 GW installed capacity (40 GW offshore) in 2020 capable of providing about 20% of European electricity demand.

It can be concluded that if the current growth rates of the above-mentioned Renewable Electricity Generation Sources can be maintained, up to 1,600 TWh (45 – 50%) of renewable electricity could be generated in 2020. With this contribution the renewable electricity industry would significantly contribute to the fulfilment of the 2020 targets.

Last but not least it has to be pointed out that this significant contribution of the
renewable electricity sector will not come by itself. Without increased political support, especially in the field of fair grid access and regulatory measures to ensure that the current electricity system is transformed to be capable to absorb these amounts of Renewable Electricity, these predictions will not come about. In addition, the different renewable energy sources will need for the next decade substantial public R&D support as well as accompanying measures to enlarge the respective markets, as cost reduction and accelerated implementation will depend on the production volume and not on time!

Download "Renewable Energy Snapshots 2010" report:

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