Renewable energy saves Europe from deficits
Renewable energy sources (wind and solar power) generated a record 22% of Europe’s electricity in 2022, overtaking fossil gas (20%) for the first time and coal again (16%), according to a study by climate think tank – Ember. Coal’s share in EU electricity generation increased by 1.5 percentage points. However, this is 37% less than in 2015, and its consumption fell in the last four months of 2022, allaying fears that the energy crisis and disruption to Russian gas supplies would cause a return to coal. Renewable energy growth helped Europe survive a deficit of 7% of total European electricity demand last year.
Minerals are key for electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels. The IEA estimates that if the world produces enough renewable energy to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement targets, demand for minerals will double or quadruple over the next 20 years. Powering the world with renewable energy will require many raw materials. “It is not a question of reserves: the minerals are there. The problem is that their extraction, both of fossil fuels and the materials needed to generate renewable energy, can cause significant damage to the environment. Then there is the issue of the proper treatment of workers. In some cases, minerals are currently being extracted under unfair or exploitative working conditions,” – says Demetrios Papathanasiou, Global Director of Energy and Mining at the World Bank. In his view, acquiring raw materials without harming people or the environment should be a priority in the transition to renewable energy.