- An Ember study states in June-July 2021, EU-27 generated 10% of its electricity from solar power
- There was a total generation of 39 TWh of solar power in these 2 months, having grown from 28 TWh in 2018
- Netherlands and Germany accounted for 17% of their electricity during the reporting period
- Ember believes EU should see the extreme weather events across Europe this summer as an urgent wake-up call to deploy more solar and take climate action
Even though solar panels fell short of matching the energy generated by their peer polluting coal power plants in terms of electricity generation in Europe during the months of June 2021 and July 2021, analysts at Ember believe during these peak months, solar panels accounted for a record 10% of electricity generated in the 27 countries of the European Union (EU-27). Coal facilities generated 14% of EU electricity in the 2 respective months, accounting for 58 TWh.
According to the clean energy think tank Ember, solar PV generation increased in these 2 reporting months to 39 TWh, growing from 28 TWh at the same time in 2018. Between June-July 2020, and 2021, solar power generation grew by 5.1 TWh over the growth of 3.1 TWh it experienced in 2020.
Most notable regions were the Netherlands and Germany where solar power generation accounted for 17% of the total electricity, followed by Spain with 16% and Greece and Italy with 13%.
In Hungary, as the analysts note, solar overtook coal power in summer 2021 for the 1st time as solar power here increased from 3% electricity in June-July 2018 to 12% in the same period in 2021. Even nations that aren’t too actively heard of in the European solar market like Estonia and Lithuania joined Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain to set a new solar record share during the summer peak in 2021.
Ember said Estonia and Poland have gone from near-zero solar in 2018 to 10% and 5% respectively in June-July 2021.
On the whole, the 27 nations of the EU have added 14 TWh of solar generation on average annually in the last 2 years, but according to the EU, in the next decade this growth must double to 30 TWh to meet the climate targets of the block, Ember said. Falling prices of PV are only going to act as an incentive to adopt solar more willingly. Ember points out the global average levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for utility scale solar PV has come from $380.6 per MWh in 2010 to $56.7 per MWh in 2020.
Nonetheless, Ember’s Europe Lead Charles More argues that Europe is yet to exploit the full potential of solar power. He points out that there is a long way to go before solar can provide more power than fossil fuels and that governments need to accelerate deployment, noting, “Weather extremes across Europe this summer have given governments an urgent wake-up call and now they must turn climate targets into climate action by stepping up solar deployment.”