War in Ukraine helped EU save 12 billion euros thanks to renewables | Renewable energy

The growth of renewable energysolar and wind, during the last year, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, avoided the expenditure of 12 billion in costs with the importation of gas, says a new report of think tank dedicated to Ember energy.

Helped by a new impetus for investment in renewable energies, and favorable weather conditions, solar and wind energy have grown by 50 TWh (TeraWatt-hours) since February 24, 2022, the day of Russia’s initiation of Ukraine.

In combination, these renewables had a record energy production: they produced 23% of the European Union’s electricity since the beginning of the war (546 TWh), which represented an increase of 10% compared to the same period of 2021-2022, says the ember report. For the first time they surpassed the share of electricity produced by gas (19%).

The annual increase in solar and wind energy production reduced the amount of gas needed to generate electricity by 90 TWh and avoided costs of 12 billion euros. This calculation is based on the TTF benchmark prices since the beginning of the war.

If the 546 TWh of renewable electricity had not been available, the EU would need an additional 993 TWh of natural gas to meet the demand for energy production, which would amount to costs of €135 billion.

When Russia cut the supply of natural gas to Europe, prices had an unprecedented rise, 313 euros per MWh (MegaWatt-hour). “This made the costs of producing electricity from gas reach more than 650 euros per MWh”, the report adds.

Solar energy was the star of the year

“With coal prices also rising, the cost of fossil fuels raised the price of electricity and triggered rising inflation and a cost of living crisis in Europe.” In October, the highest inflation figures in Europe were reached, 11.5%, as the high prices of fossil fuels are reflected in more expensive food and fertilizers, recalls Reuters.

Market volatility encouraged the search for ways out of the European Union’s energy dependence on Russia. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a shock that sent Europe into action. Suddenly, the huge vulnerabilities that were due to energy dependency became a clear reality. The last year has seen a race to address these risks through an accelerated transition to a cleaner and more secure energy system,” said Ember analyst Sarah Brown, quoted in a press release about the new report.

Total natural gas imports by EU countries only decreased by 5% in this period, but imports from Russia fell by 62%. Before the invasion of Ukraine, the EU depended on Russia for around 40% of its gas imports. That figure dropped to 16%.

This happened in a year in which the generation of hydroelectricity or from nuclear had important reductions, due to the drought and problems in the park of nuclear power stations in France: these two forms of electricity production had a drop of 185 TWh compared to 2021. ” To give some context of scale, 185 TWh equals 7% of total electricity generation across the EU in 2022,” explained the European Electricity Report 2023released by Ember on January 31.

“Five-sixths of the gap has been filled by rising solar and wind power generation, and one-fifth by falling electricity demand. [verificada sobretudo na parte final do ano]. Only one-sixth was due to increased electricity generation from coal. Gas generation remained practically unchanged (up 0.8%), reads that January report.

Solar energy was in fact the star of the year: 20 EU countries achieved in 2022 the highest share of photovoltaic electricity production. The Netherlands was ahead: 14% of its energy comes from solar, surpassing coal for the first time last year.

It is essential to maintain this trajectorysays Sarah Brown, from Ember: “It remains critical that the EU rapidly expand solar and wind energy to achieve its energy independence permanently”, she says, quoted in the press release of the report on the savings that renewable energies allowed European countries in this year of war.

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