Renewable energy contributes to coal decline

By Ingo Koenig

In one of my recent blogs a commentator claimed that no coal plants have been closed due to growth of renewable power generation capacity in Europe.

This prompted us to look at the net changes (addition of new capacity minus de-commissioned capacity) of power generation capacity in Europe in the year 2009. The result is that out of the five largest net capacity additions, four were based on renewable sources (Wind, Solar, Biomass and Waste), which together accounted for almost three-quarters of the total additions with another quarter coming from Natural Gas.

Coal and nuclear power had a negative balance, which means more plants were closed than added to the grid. Coal plants newly added had a much lower carbon foot-print than the ones taken off the grid. This is not a one-year effect: 2008 showed the same trend and looking at the 10-year-period between 2000-2009, one finds that Wind and Natural Gas have been the leading sources of power added to the grid, with Solar coming in third.

Nuclear power, coal and fuel oil based power generation capacity was taken off the grid massively (22,000 MW).

We conclude that Wind, Solar, et al have contributed to a large extent to the de-commissioning of fossil fuel and nuclear based power in Europe and hence helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ingo studied business administration and economics at Kiel University where he received a PhD in economic policy and also earned an MBA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA. Visit

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