In recent months, the European Union has significantly ramped up wind and solar power production to wean itself off Russian gas. In the second quarter of 2022, 43% of the bloc’s energy mix came from renewables.
The European Union hit a record 12% in solar power production from May to August 2022, and 13% from wind. What’s more, 19 of the bloc’s 27 member states have achieved record wind and solar power generation since March of this year.
The statistics were revealed in the 2022 State of the Energy Union report, published yesterday by the European Commission. Data suggests that the bloc managed to increase its share of renewables in the electricity mix to 43% in the second quarter of 2022, outplaying fossil fuels, which stopped at 36%. Poland saw the greatest increase in renewables (48.5%) between March and September compared to last year.
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“This report shows what the EU has done in response to the current energy market crisis, and how much progress we have achieved overall.” – said Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson. “At the same time, it highlights how these developments fit in with our long-term climate goals.”
The growth in renewable energy capacity has saved the EU approximately €99 billion (US$97 billion) in avoided gas imports between March and September, the report found.
Russian pipeline gas imports have dropped considerably, from 41% in 2021 to 9% so far this year, with Bulgaria, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Finland no longer receiving any gas supply from the state.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, Russia has been manipulating gas supplies with the aim of undermining energy security in the EU. The nation is now being accused by the EU and other states of sabotaging the Nord Stream pipelines, a pair of undersea natural gas pipelines that supply the bloc’s nations with most of the gas they import from Russia.
Gas shortages are having huge repercussions on the EU’s economy and have contributed to a 700%-increase in gas prices so far this year; and with gas in storage in Europe already surpassing 91%, member countries are working to implement alternative measures to tackle higher energy prices.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that the country will extend the lifespan of all three nuclear power plants until April 2021 “at the longest”. Meanwhile, a number of European nations are allowing their coal-fired plants to continue or restart generating energy. However, Ireland was the only EU country to increase its gas consumption in the second quarter of this year.