50% cheaper to generate electricity from renewables compared with fossil fuel-powered plants, analysis finds

·2-min read
 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The cost of generating electricity from power plants in major EU economies is double that associated with renewable sources, according to new analysis.

Research by the energy think tank Ember said it is now around 50 per cent cheaper to create electricity using wind and solar power when compared with plants using fossil fuels.

Ember said the change had been driven by a rise in the price of fuels such as coal, with demand for electricity rebounding as Covid restrictions ease.

Charles Moore, Ember's Europe lead, called on governments across the Continent to do more to reduce reliance on fossil fuels for energy, thereby reducing emissions.

“There’s never been a better time to accelerate the transition to wind and solar with the costs of sticking with fossils painfully clear,” he said.

“There’s a clear consensus: it is no longer credible for rich nations to target net zero by 2050 without near-term plans to secure 100 per cent clean power by 2035.”

Mr Moore added: “With all eyes on the UK as it hosts the critical COP26 climate conference, the UK should make this commitment and join Biden to catalyse a new high ambition coalition on clean power.”

The findings come from Ember's latest mid-year analysis, published Wednesday.

It sets out the latest data on Europe’s electricity generation in the first six months of 2021, compared to the same period both during the first half of 2020 and 2019, before the pandemic struck.

The analysis includes figures from the EU 27 countries, including Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

According to the report, electricity demand is back to pre-pandemic levels, but fossil fuels are failing to recover as renewables show consistent growth.

Coal generation was 16 per cent lower in the first half of 2021 than in 2019, the report said.

Among other findings, clean electricity - energy using renewable sources - increased to provide two-thirds of the EU-27’s power in the first half of 2021.

This article was updated at 8:36 on Thursday 28/07/2021. A quote that inaccurately stated the rising costs of imported gas were driving up consumer electricity bills was removed.

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