Wind energy provided a record high contribution to Europe’s energy mix in 2020
Wind farms delivered their highest ever contribution to Europe’s power mix as conventional coal and gas energy fell to a record low in Britain, according to new analysis from EnnAppSys
The winds of change blew across Europe through 2020 as wind farms delivered their highest ever contribution to the continent’s power mix, providing 15 per cent of total generation, new figures from power market analyst EnAppSys show.
EnAppSys’ annual European electricity market summary for 2020 shows that a record 429TWh of output came from wind farms. Germany maintained its position as the leading producer of wind power source for every quarter since 2015, with Spain, Britain, France, and Sweden also relying on wind to deliver a significant proportion of their electricity mix.
“Amid the global drive to move to cleaner electricity sources, many European countries see wind farms as an increasingly vital component of the overall power mix,” said Jean-Paul Harreman, director of EnAppSys BV. “This trend was seen very starkly in the 2020 data and is likely to become more pronounced in the next few years. All segments of the renewable sector except waste saw increases in generation from 2019 levels, with solar and hydro seeing increases of 12 per cent in output.”
Hydropower from both reservoirs and rivers remained the largest individual component of renewable generation, contributing 477TWh, while a sunny spring saw solar farms produce their highest output in the last five years hitting 127TWh, the data reveals.
Gas-fired plants were another notable contributor to Europe’s energy mix, producing 529TWh throughout the year, while nuclear remained the biggest generator of any single fuel type with an output of 688TWh.
In Britain thermal generation from gas and coal fell to a record low, EnAppSys’s data shows, as high renewables output and low demand led to a steep slide in market prices.
Combined generation from coal and gas-fired plants amounted to 102.7TWh in the UK in 2020, the data shows – the lowest figure on record and less than half the 230.5TWh produced by these two power sources in 2011. Renewables outstripped fossil fuels generation, producing a record 41 per cent of the grid mix or 120.3TWh of overall output – the largest share seen so far for the renewable fleet on an annual basis, up 18 per cent from its 35 per cent share in 2019.
“Last year was a record year for renewable generation and this, coupled with the impact of lower demand resulting from COVID lockdowns, saw the lowest levels of conventional thermal generation in recent history,” said EnAppSys director Paul Verrill.
“Market prices fell materially in response to the low demand conditions. Last year was also notable for periods of negative prices with some very low prices occurring – notably £-70.49/MWh on May 22 and £-65.94/MWh on June 28, with prices remaining negative for hours at a time on a number of occasions during Q2. These occurred during periods of low demand, when large volumes of wind had to be bid down or switched off.”