What’s powering Renewable Energy in Europe?

Author: Andrew Downs, Director at White Space Strategy

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Europe needs renewable energy. We all know the pressing reasons why but with a patchwork quilt of different geographies, jurisdictions and priorities just what is being achieved? It turns out quite a lot! We’ve spent the past few months analysing more than 300 different data sources to establish the trends and brought them together in a new paper – The Future of Renewable Energy in Europe. 

I encourage you to download the full report but here are some of the highlights. Alongside growing public opinion and the need for greater energy sovereignty, we have seen the emergence of new and more affordable technologies. The result has been the setting of even more ambitious energy targets across Europe. 

In July 2021 the EU Commission proposed to update the EU target on renewable energy sources in the energy mix from 32% to 40%.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the EU to raise this target to 45%. As total final energy consumption includes electricity production, transport, heating, and cooling, meeting that target would mean producing at least 69% of electricity from renewables. 

The European Green Deal, with its twin principal objectives of climate neutrality by 2050 and a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, has spurred the European Commission to action. 

Today, more than 30 strategies and action plans for the accelerated adoption of renewables are in play as a consequence of the relatively fast-paced legislative and administrative commitment.

Investment is reaping rewards

As a result, the EU is experiencing record-breaking energy generation from renewables, and this is set to continue. According to the European Commission’s 2022 State of the Energy Union report: 

“The EU generated a record 12% of its electricity from solar from May to August 2022, and 13% from wind. Early indications suggest that 2022 will be a record year for the European solar photovoltaics market, with an annual deployment growth of 17-26% in the largest EU countries’ markets.”

Across the markets assessed, the current capacity of energy generation from solar is approximately 200GW. This is set to double to 400GW by 2030 and hit an astonishing 1,400GW by 2050. In doing so, solar generation will need to be expanded more than 7 times its current capacity in less than 30 years.

These drastic increases are not limited to solar. The current capacity for onshore wind will increase by 50GW to 250GW by 2030 and is planned to increase to 800GW by 2050. Offshore wind capacity is also scheduled to increase by a factor of 5 to 100GW by 2030 and then further catapult to 300GW by 2050.

Today hydropower and combined onshore and offshore wind are the biggest contributors to the renewables sector within Europe. Solar, however, is expected to grow most significantly. Whilst wind generation (and other renewable sources) will continue to accelerate, they are destined to be significantly outpaced and outgrown by solar in the next few years.

Skilled people with mobile technology required

Europe has set itself an ambitious plan to reimagine its energy infrastructure. This will inevitably require a skilled and well equipped workforce to deliver on the ambitious goals. In the next 3 decades, countries will need to leverage and grow their experienced teams of developers, manufacturers, installers, and maintenance engineers to match the targets they’ve set.

In facilitating this transition, a substantial number of rugged, dependable, and secure mobile devices capable of operating in extreme conditions will be required across Europe. I couldn’t think of a better use for a TOUGHBOOK device than helping Europe transition to renewable energy.

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