Renewables fuel European economies and force power generators into rethink

18th August 2014


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  • Conventional ,
  • Renewable ,
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IEMA

Almost 38% of energy production in Spain during July was from renewable sources, while electricity in the UK generated by wind reached a record level on 17 August. The expansion of renewables is, however, forcing RWE to scale back generation from conventional power plants.

RWE Generation has announced plans to close 1,000MW of coal-generated power supply in Germany over the next three years, blaming the continued expansion of renewables for reducing the need for conventional power plants.

The news came as Spain’s electricity transmission agent and operator, Red Eléctrica de España, released new data showing that 37.6% of the country’s energy production in July came from renewables, with wind energy up by a record 28.7% on the same time last year. Over 55% of Spain’s electricity generation in July was obtained using technologies that produce zero CO2 emissions, said Red Eléctrica de España.

Meanwhile, RenewableUK, the trade body for the wind and wave energy sector, has reported that a record 22% of UK electricity on 17 August was generated by wind. Data from the National Grid shows that onshore and offshore wind turbines generated 5,797MW yesterday. By contrast, coal-fired generation contributed just 13%.

The news from Spain and the UK follows an announcement at the end of July by the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry that renewable energy sources accounted for 28.5% of the gross domestic electricity consumption in Germany in the first half of 2014 – up from 24.6% in 2013.

In a statement, RWE Generation said the ongoing expansion of renewable energy is increasingly leading to reductions in the utilisation of conventional power plants. The company had already decommissioned Didcot A and Tilbury as part of a planned reduction of generating capacity of around 5,000MW in the UK by the end of March 2015, which it says is “due to environmental regulatory requirements”. The firm now says its Goldenbergwerk lignite power plant in Hürth will be removed from the German grid in the third quarter of 2015, while one unit at the Westfalen hard-coal power plant in Hamm will follow in 2016.

RWE, which operates 22 hydroelectric schemes and 30 wind farms in the UK, through RWE Innology UK, welcomed the continued growth in renewables but warns that the downward trend in conventional power plants threatens security of supply.


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