Renewable energies overtook fossil fuels within the EU electrical energy combine in 2020: Report

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Middelgrunden offshore wind farm is pictured outside of Copenhagen

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By Susanna Twidale

LONDON (Reuters) – Renewable energies first replaced fossil fuels as the European Union's main source of electricity in 2020 when new projects went online and coal power dwindled, a report showed on Monday.

Renewable sources such as wind and sun generated 38% of the electricity of the 27-member bloc in 2020, with fossil fuels such as coal and gas contributing 37%, the report by think tanks Ember and Agora Energiewende showed.

(Graphic: Share of electricity generation (%) in the EU 27 – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/rlgvdgxnjpo/Pasted%20image%201611313645338.png)

Denmark had the highest share of wind and solar energy, contributing 61% of its electricity needs in 2020. Ireland reached 35% and Germany 33%.

The countries with the lowest share of renewable energies (less than 5%) were Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Limiting households and businesses to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus resulted in a 4% decrease in total electricity demand in the EU last year. However, the impact has been more perceived by fossil fuel manufacturers, the report showed.

Power generation from coal fell by 20% in 2020 and has halved since 2015.

"Coal production declined in almost all countries, continuing the coal collapse that occurred long before Covid-19," the report said.

Many European countries are exhibiting polluting coal-fired power plants to meet emissions reduction targets, but low electricity prices due to the pandemic lockdowns have also made some coal-fired power plants unprofitable compared to cheaper renewable energy generation.

"Renewable energies will continue to grow as we keep installing more. The judges aren't sure if fossil fuels will recover, but when they do do they won't expect much," said Dave Jones, senior electric analyst at Ember.

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