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The EU reached record peak of solar power production this summer

The EU reached record peak of solar power production this summer

The European Union’s average solar power production reached the 10% milestone, and there are eight countries going well above that mark

On 18 August, Ember, a climate change think tank, reported that in June-July 2021 solar power accounted for 10% of the total energy in the EU-27 for the first time ever. This is a major milestone for Europe’s solar charge, as it overtook coal as a power source in more countries than before.

Although eight countries produced more than a tenth of their energy through photovoltaic systems, forming a sort of a ‘Solar Club’, coal is still the main power source in the EU even during the summer. Furthermore, Ember’s analysis shows that European countries need to double their solar installations to reach 2030 goals.

The ‘Solar Club’ is growing

Here are the eight countries that generated more than 10% of their electricity through solar installations in 2021. Germany and the Netherlands are leading the charge with a whopping 17% share going to solar energy. They are followed by Spain (16%), Greece (13%) and Italy (13%). In the lower bracket of the ‘Solar Club’, Hungary produced nearly 12%, Denmark, around 11% and Estonia - 10%.

Ember conducted a similar study back in 2018 when the ‘Solar Club’ consisted of just three countries:  Germany, Italy and Denmark, with Greece just below the threshold.

In the last three years, Hungary has quadrupled its solar production and, for the first time, the sun rays overtook coal as the main power source in the summer of 2021. This is partially due to the expansion of renewables and partially due to the reduction in fossil fuel reliance. The country went from using 17% coal power in 2018 to just 10% in 2021.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands and Spain doubled their solar power production, pushing them convincingly over the 10% mark. Estonia implemented a massive expansion in the sector and went from zero to 10% in the same period.

After the massive expansion, it is still not enough

According to the report, Europe’s summer solar production peaks in June-July are getting higher every year. Solar panels generated a record tenth of all EU electricity - 39 TWh (terawatt-hours) in June-July 2021. This is compared to 28 TWh in the same period in 2018.

Solar power generation in the EU is growing at an accelerated rate as well. The power output increased by 5.1 TWh between June-July 2020 and 2021. This is a larger year-to-year change than 2019-2020 (3.1 TWh) and 2018-2019 (2.6 TWh).

Yet, after all the efforts, coal still generated 14% of the EU’s electricity in June-July 2021 (58 TWh).

The European Union has added 14 TWh of solar generation annually in the last two years. Yet, according to the European Commission, countries should double yearly growth in the next decade to 30 TWh in order to meet the new 2030 climate targets.

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