The Development of Renewable Energy in Europe – 2011 Roundup

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The European Wind Energy Association shows impressive numbers when it comes to developing renewable energy in 2011:

As much as 71.3% of new power installations during 2011 were renewable. The total renewable output developed this year yields 32.043 MW; in other words, more renewable capacity was installed in 2011 than any other year (an increase of 3.9% compared to 2010).

Germany, UK, Spain together accounts for almost half of the new capacity installed, which all had put emphasis put on wind turbines this year.


Big year for offshore wind power

A very interesting trend this year has been the UK market, where 58 % of the wind capacity developed was built offshore – a total of 752 MW. In comparison, offshore turbines only accounted for 8.9 % of total EU wind power the same year.

In UK, another two large offshore farms will be completed within 2012, together generating an impressive 1134 MW. UK has another 8 offshore wind farms proposed – A total of more than 30 000 MW.


Photovoltaics on top

A definite number one in 2011 was Solar PV. Of total capacity installed, photovoltaics accounted for 46.7%. Not many people are aware that that even though solar power is considered a completely green way of harnessing energy, there are in fact small emissions of climate gases linked to the manufacturing process. (Read more about other downsides of this technology here: Solar Energy Pros and Cons).

Renewable energy is starting to take root in the EU. This especially become evident when we compare newly installed renewable capacity to the amount of net decommissioned capacity of coal, nuclear and fuel oil (oil used to power an engine), which yields 5062 MW. In other words, as much as 5062 MW of the non-renewable and polluting energy sources mentioned above has been taken out of the energy system.


Getting closer to the -30% greenhouse gas reduction within 2020 target

We are getting closer to achieve a 30% reduction of greenhouses gases in EU from 1990-2020. However, if we look closer at the development of coal, there’s actually a net increase in total capacity developed this year, which alone is responsible for 1307 MW.

It is clear that something has to happen with the subsidizing of new coal power if this development is to end – and if the 2020 target should be reached.

  • Mathias Aarre Mæhlum

    Mathias is currently doing a masters in energy and environmental engineering at NTNU in Norway. In his spare time he runs, a site that focuses on informing and promoting the use of clean, renewable energy technologies and increased energy efficiency. Connect with Mathias on Google+ or send him an email.

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