The European Union produces record wind and solar power as it evades Russian gas | CNN Business


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Wind and solar power have made up a record 24% of the European Union’s electricity mix since Russia launched its war on Ukraine, a new report said, a boost that also helped combat soaring inflation.

Growth in renewable energy capacity saved €99 billion ($97 billion) in gas imports averted between March and September for the 27-nation bloc, up €11 billion ($10.8 billion) over the same period last year, According to the report published by climate research centers E3G and Ember.

The surge in renewables comes as Europe tries to decouple itself from Russian gas, with Moscow reducing, and even cutting, energy supplies from European countries to gain leverage in the conflict. The war forced the EU to confront its costly dependence on Russian gas, which in 2020 made up 41% of the EU’s imports of fossil fuels.

The report found that 19 of the 27 EU member states have achieved a record wind and solar power generation since March.

Poland recorded the largest year-over-year increase of 48.5%, while Spain recorded the largest absolute generation increase of 7.4 TWh. Renewable power generation in Spain alone avoided 1.7 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in imported gas costs.

However, think tanks have warned that there is still a long way to go in reaching the renewable energy potential of the block. Fossil gas still made up about 20% of the European Union’s electricity in the same period, at a cost of about 82 billion euros ($80.7 billion).

“Wind and solar are already helping European citizens,” Chris Rosslow, chief analyst at Ember, said in a statement. “But the potential for the future is greater.”

Wind and solar produced 345 TWh of electricity across the European Union from March to September this year – a year-on-year increase of 13%. Total renewables could have been much higher, had hydropower not fallen by 21% due to this summer’s drought, which scientists say has been exacerbated by the human-caused climate crisis.

The report’s main message is simply: “More renewables, less inflation.”

However, European energy prices remain high. The report said Russia’s gas restrictions on Europe led to “the largest inflationary shocks in Europe since World War II, surpassing the oil crisis of the 1970s.” In September 2022, energy costs were up 40.8% compared to last year, which is 36% of all EU inflation figures.

Atmospheric gas flow after attacks on Nord Stream pipelines in September.

Some EU countries have announced financial support packages worth hundreds of billions of dollars to try to curb this inflation, largely by subsidizing the use of fossil fuels for heating – but many businesses and households still struggle with bills they cannot pay.

The report warns that governments will not be able to maintain such costly programs to “compensate for rising fossil energy prices over a long period of time”.

The report called for more investment in renewable energy sources in preparation for the upcoming winter seasons.

The European Union has been able to fill its gas storage containers to get through the winter, but questions have been raised about how the block will fill the gap in the next warming season. According to the report’s authors, this makes it “more important now to shift the focus to measures beyond winter 2022/23”.

Intensification of renewable energy sources It followed the European Commission’s “RePowerEU” proposal in May, which raised the renewable energy target from 40% of the total energy mix by 2030 to 45%.

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