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Renewables to Exceed Fossil Fuels in European Generation by 2020

Renewables to Exceed Fossil Fuels in European Generation by 2020

Europe's share of generation capacity using renewable sources will rise to at least 40 percent by 2020, exceeding capacity fueled by coal, natural gas and oil, according to the region's grid operators group Entsoe.

Renewable electricity output capacity will grow by about 50 percent to 512 gigawatts by the end of the decade, Entsoe said in a report published today. Generation capacity using fossil fuels may rise 0.7 percent to 471 gigawatts in the same period. Nuclear production accounts for most of the rest, according to Entsoe’s figures.

The European Union aims to generate 20 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2020 and cut reliance on carbon-heavy coal and oil output. Carbon emissions fell 1.4 percent in Europe last year as the 27-nation bloc worked toward reducing emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

“Wind, solar and biomass power plants are expected to increase, while the share of hydropower plants is expected to decrease,” Entsoe said. The increasing volume of variable renewable generation urgently requires “complementary measures” to ensure the balancing of the system, it said.

Norway will remain the country with the most power produced from renewables with 96 percent in 2020, followed by Switzerland with 73 percent, Montenegro 69 percent and Latvia 68 percent, Entsoe said.

Among nations relying most heavily on coal, lignite, oil and gas for their generation needs, Estonia will produce 83 percent of its power from fossil fuels, the Netherlands 80 percent, Cyprus 78 percent and Poland 75 percent in 2020.

“A clear replacement trend of coal, lignite, oil by natural gas is forecast” for the entire region, Entsoe said.

Nuclear power plants are expected to increase installed capacity until 2015, and then decrease until 2020, Entsoe said. France will remain Europe’s biggest nuclear generator by 2020, with around 63 gigawatts of capacity.

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg

Lead image: Graph via Shutterstock

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