Wind power generation has reached record levels across Europe and has now produced more electricity than hydropower for two quarters in a row, according to a report by energy analyst EnAppSys.
The report shows that renewable energy output from all sources fell by over 8% in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019. This was mostly due to a significant decline in hydro generation, which fell by 25% to 104.7 terawatt hours (TWh) compared with Q1 in 2018. Wind power, however, reached record levels with 105.4 TWh, a 57% rise since 2015. Solar power produced 27.9 TWh in Q1, an increase of 14% from Q1 in 2018.
Among fossil fuels, gas-fired power generation has overtaken all other fossil fuels for the first time. It produced 117 TWh in Q1, compared to coal, lignite and gas-to-coal at 110.9 TWh. In all, gas-fired generation has risen by 91% since 2015, with coal declining by almost 33%.
Nuclear power generation fell by 4% to 204.4 TWh, its lowest quarterly output since 2015. However, the report did note that nuclear is still the largest single power source across the continent in the quarter.
In total, 38% of energy generation came from wind, solar and hydro and other minor renewables, 33% from fossil fuels and 29% from nuclear power.
EnAppSys director Jean-Paul Harreman said: “The report has produced several notable trends in the European power generation market. The transition from coal to gas has been driven by higher-than-usual carbon taxes in Britain, costs associated with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the acceleration of coal plant closures in several countries.
“This trend is likely to continue, with Germany looking to phase out coal quicker than originally anticipated and countries such as Estonia continuing to generate a large share of their electricity from high-polluting oil (or shale oil) sources.
“Much of the nuclear output was generated by power plants in France, although a lot of these plants, and other nuclear plants across Europe, are being phased out so in time these volumes will have to be replaced by alternative sources.”