- Solar power generation in the EU between May 2022 and August 2022 increased from 77.7 TWh in 2021 to 99.4 TWh, says Ember
- This helped the bloc save €29 billion that it would have had to invest in importing gas
- Solar’s share increased in the national power mix of several countries, including Poland that alone reported 26 times increase in solar generation since 2018
- As gas prices are expected to remain elevated over next few years, Ember wants the EU to help accelerate solar installations with supportive regulatory and financial measures
Between May 2022 and August 2022, the European Union (EU) saw 99.4 TWh of solar power generation, helping it save as much as €29 billion that otherwise it would have had to spend on importing gas, according to a new report by environmental think tank Ember.
The UK based non-profit says solar energy delivered record-high generation across the Summer of 2022 in the region accounting for 12.2% of all electricity generation, up from 9% or 77.7 TWh in the previous year. Solar surpassed the share of wind and hydro power in the power mix that stood at 11.7% and 11% respectively. Coal holds 16.5% share in the power mix.
“Dwindling fossil fuel supplies are pushing electricity prices into all-time highs, with the power balance impacted further by nuclear reactor unavailability in France and drought limiting hydroelectricity generation across Europe, among others,” point out the analysts. “It is at this time that solar energy truly shined, delivering record-high generation across the summer of 2022, helping keep the lights on and reducing the EU’s now critical gas consumption.”
Out of 27-member bloc, solar share records were broken in 18 EU nations with Poland reporting 26 times increase in solar generation since 2018, followed by 5-fold improved in Finland and Hungary.
Ember counts 10 member states as having generated over 1/10th of their electricity from solar panels during the period with highest share in the Netherlands (22.7%), followed by Germany (19.3%) and Spain (16.7%).
Gas prices on the other hand, continue to spiral upward. “The gas price for this coming winter contract (Winter 22/23) is currently nine times higher than it was this time last year at €242 per MWh versus €28 per MWh,” as per Ember analysis that sees no respite from these skyrocketing prices for at least next 3 years, thanks to the ‘weaponization’ of gas by Russia.
Since solar has been helping EU keep the lights on, Ember believes it would need to grow 9-fold by 2035 to put Europe on a pathway compatible with 1.5ºC.
“Investments in solar capacity have paid off. Every TWh of solar electricity helped reduce our gas consumption, saving billions for European citizens. It’s clear that we need as much solar power as we can get,” said Ember’s Senior Energy & Climate Data Analyst Paweł Czyżak. “The EU Parliament has the perfect opportunity to give it to us by adopting the 45% renewable energy target and putting Europe on a pathway towards 600 GW of solar capacity or more by 2030.”
The report writers want the EU to take note of this and support further and faster growth of solar energy by reducing permitting barriers and increasing funding and solar deployment speeds.
In its June 2022 report on Turkey, Ember said the country saved $7 billion in the last 12 months by reducing its fossil fuel imports thanks to wind and solar power generation. These 2 technologies are set to help it save $700 million a month if gas prices continue to remain high (see Wind & Solar Save Turkey $7 Billion In 12 Months).