- EU’s wind and solar power generation between March 2022 and September 2022 was a record 24% of its electricity supply
- These 2 technologies helped save €11 billion in avoided gas costs; Additional gas would have cost the EU €99 billion
- REPowerEU agenda must be supported for the uptake of renewables if the bloc wants to reduce its exposure to volatile supply and price of imported gas in the near future
Ever since the Russian war against Ukraine began earlier this year, the European Union (EU) was able to save as much as €11 billion in gas costs with the help of wind and solar power generation. Going forward its REPowerEU program can further reduce its exposure to costly gas imports, according to clean energy and climate change think tanks Ember and E3G.
In a briefing paper, the analysts claim wind and solar generated a record 24% of the bloc’s electricity from March 2022 to September 2022 with 345 TWh, up from 21% in the previous year. Of the 19 EU nations that achieved a wind and solar record during the reporting period, Spain led the list with 35%, followed by Italy at 20% and France at 14%.
This increase in clean energy helped mitigate the impacts caused by drought as hydro power generation declined 21% YoY and nuclear power generation that went down by 19%.
“Without this wind and solar generation, the EU would have required 690 TWh (~70 bcm) of additional natural gas to produce that electricity from gas instead,” explain the analysts. “Based on the average EU benchmark TTF Day Ahead gas price for March to September 2022, this additional gas would have cost the EU €99 billion. The year-on-year increase in wind and solar generation resulted in 8 bcm of gas savings, making up €11 bn in avoided gas costs.”
Yet, the bloc still spent around €82 billion on securing fossil gas to cover 20% of its electricity supply during the period.
The EU’s renewables future looks promising though as the bloc might increase its targeted renewable energy share to 45% in its total power mix by 2030; however, this still needs to be finalized in the so called trilogue by the European Council. European Parliament and the European Commission, as only the latter two are supporting that level so far (see EU One Step Closer To 45% Renewables Target For 2030).
As gas supply in the global markets is anticipated to remain tight over the next few years, EU must take renewables seriously and swiftly, instead of devising a gas diversification strategy.
“EU governments need to demonstrate that they intend to reduce exposure to high-priced gas imports. They should set a clean investment agenda by supporting the new RePowerEU targets, and making rapid progress in achieving the projected reduction of 41% of gas demand by 2030. This will bring relief to tight international LNG markets,” recommend the writers.
In an earlier commentary from September 2022, Ember said the EU saved €29 billion in gas imports within 4 months thanks to solar power (see Solar Power Bringing Down EU’s Gas Import Bill).