London — European responses to the coronavirus have accelerated the electricity system transition by a decade, proving systems can cope with high levels of renewable energy generation, according to analysis Friday by Finnish power engineering firm Wartsila.
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Coal-fired generation fell 25.5% across the EU and the UK in the first three months of 2020 versus 2019, while renewable energy accounted for a 43% share in the generation mix, according to system data gathered by Wartsila's new Energy Transition Lab.
The impact was accentuated in the month to April 10, coal generation down 29% on year, accounting for just 12% of EU and UK generation, while renewables delivered 46% of generation -- an increase of 8% on 2019.
"What we can see today is how our energy systems cope with much more renewable power -- knowledge that will be invaluable to accelerate the energy transition," said Wartsila Energy Business' Bjorn Ullbro.
"Electricity demand across Europe has fallen due to the lockdown measures applied by governments to stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, total renewable generation has remained at pre-crisis levels with low electricity prices, combined with renewables-friendly policy measures, squeezing out fossil fuel power generation, especially coal. This sets the scene for the next decade of the energy transition," he said.
System data from Entso-e gathered by Wartsila showed that, in the UK, renewables had a 43% share of generation in the month to April 10, up 10% on year while coal power was down 35% and gas down 24%.
In Germany the share of renewables reached 60% (up 12%) while coal generation fell 44%, resulting in a fall in the carbon intensity of its electricity of over 30%.