New analysis by Sandbag looks at the 2015 power sector in Europe. The data shows that 2015 saw a record increase in renewables generation, equal to 2.5% of European electricity demand. But despite this, power sector CO2 emissions are expected to fall by only about 0.5%.
The large falls in coal generation in the UK were offset by increased coal generation in the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Poland; European gas generation saw its first increase since 2010; and German lignite generation barely changed as Germany exported record amounts of electricity. In addition, renewables growth was concentrated in only 3 countries: Germany, UK, Italy.
This should not worry people too much: most of this is a “pause for breath” after a massive 7.5% fall in power sector emissions in 2014, and emissions are expected to resume the fast downward trend in 2016.
Our ETS emissions forecast to 2020 remains unchanged, which is for emissions to fall 21% from 2014 to 2020. This would equate to 30% economy-wide CO2 cuts by 2020, far surpassing the EU target of 20% cut by 2020.
However, large – mostly political – uncertainties still remain about how quickly future emissions will fall to 2020, and beyond. This is especially true of lignite power stations, which are still generating at the same level as 2010. Significantly faster decarbonisation of the EU power sector is possible if policies to phase-out coal and lignite are implemented.