According to data from the energy think tank Ember, solar panels produced nearly 10% of EU electricity in the months of this sunny summer, a significant increase from just over 6% three years ago.
Eight of the 27 blocks, including Germany and Spain, set new sun records in June and July.
However, solar power still produces less electricity than the European coal-fired power plants, which produced 14% of EU electricity this summer.
Charles Moore, Ember’s European leader, said:
“In the last decade, the cost of solar power has fallen, showing the first signs of the European solar revolution. But even at the height of the European summer sun, the sun has more electricity than fossil fuels. There is a long way to go before we supply, “he said.
Investment in solar energy has accelerated in recent years as prices have fallen and there is growing interest among businesses and governments to achieve net zero emissions.
The International Renewable Energy Agency said this year that the amount of renewable energy added to the world’s power systems, which is cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives, doubled in 2020 compared to the previous year. In particular, onshore wind and solar facilities were below the new fossil fuel alternatives, he said.
Within the EU, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain generated the largest proportion (nearly one-fifth) of solar power this summer.
Hungary and Estonia, which experienced very little solar power in 2018, recorded a significant increase this year. Each country relied on sunlight to generate about 12% and 10% of electricity, respectively. Solar power also overtook coal for the first time in Hungary this summer.
Moore said these big leap were “caused by a combination of support policies and plunging costs.”
“This shows that the rapid decarbonization of the power grid is within our reach if there is political will,” he said.